Munich - Eintracht Braunschweig picked up their first win of the season over VfL Wolfsburg, 1. FSV Mainz 05 nicked a point in the dying moments against 1899 Hoffenheim, while VfB Stuttgart and SV Werder Bremen cancelled each other out in Saturday's 15.30 kick-offs.
VfL Wolfsburg 0-2 Eintracht Braunschweig
rounds up the best of Saturday afternoon's action.
Eintracht Braunschweig picked up a morale-boosting first win as breakaway goals in both halves brought them a win in Wolfsburg. The home side took a while to get going in the first-half, but when they did, two chances came in quick succession through Ivica Olic. His eighth and 15th minute efforts seemed certain to signify an increase in pressure on basement boys Braunschweig, but the visitors to the Wolves’ den were becoming more and more fearless with each foiled attack. When Luiz Gustavo lost the ball in midfield in the 31st minute, Braunschweig broke swiftly to take the lead for the first time this season, Mirko Boland squaring from a one-on-one position to find Karim Bellarabi, who rolled the ball into the empty net.
Lions take it late
Gustavo used the early period of the second-half to try and atone for that lost ball in midfield, but with Diego unusually quiet, Wolfsburg began to discover that Gustavo and Olic couldn’t do everything. Both men were dominant, Gustavo covered the most ground and Olic had the most shots, but the visiting Lions, led by Bellarabi's directness, were always a threat. Despite Ivan Perisic’s best efforts from distance, the most decisive action of the second period came up the other end. Another Braunschweig breakaway led to another goal before the whistle, Marco Caligiuri’s lung-bursting run was followed by the midfielder rolling the ball across to set Domi Kumbela up in the 86th minute. The Lions’ top- scorer last season composed himself and rolled it past Diego Benaglio to make it 2-0 and send Braunschweig into delirium with their first Bundesliga win.
1. FSV Mainz 05 2-2 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Mainz picked up a vital point late on thanks to captain Nikolce Noveski after a second-half comeback against Hoffenheim. The
began in impressive fashion, intent on reversing their poor run of form, peppering Koen Casteels in the Hoffenheim goal with shots from midfield, but their early verve was quashed by Kevin Volland’s 14th minute strike. His fifth goal of the season was the mark of a man in form, a curling, left-footed finish from the edge of the box. Eight minutes later, Roberto Firmino plunged Mainz into the depths of despair with one dink of his left foot. The Brazilian was put through by substitute Sven Schipplock, and coolly lifted the ball over an onrushing Heinz Müller.
Maxim Choupo-Moting led the hosts' charge after the restart, his header on 56 minutes nearly troubling Casteels, but neither side gave an inch in the ensuing encounters in midfield. It was always Choupo-Moting who threatened to make the breakthrough, and so it was that in the 81st minute he gave Thomas Tuchel’s men a glimmer of hope with a falling volley at the back-post. Hope turned into reality at the last, as keeper Müller fired a header in from a corner, which caused a game of pinball in the box. Younes Malli was quickest to react, poking the ball home via numerous deflections, and giving the carnival fans their first points to enjoy since August.
VfB Stuttgart 1-1 SV Werder Bremen
An exciting first-half provided the only goals of the game from Martin Harnik and Nils Petersen, before the sides nullified each other in the second period. Stuttgart’s rise and rise under Thomas Schneider was set to continue early on here, as Martin Harnik scored the fastest goal by the Swabians since February with a back post volley after six minutes. Thereafter however, the home side dropped off the pace, four of their six shots in the first-half came within the first twelve minutes, and opportunities for Petersen highlighted the attacking danger posed by the visitors. Stuttgart didn’t heed such warnings and a 37th-minute Bremen equaliser gave an even game the equal scoreline it deserved. Zlatko Junuzovic picked up the rebound from his own cross on the byline and fired a low ball backwards into the six-yard box, which was met athletically and converted by the late-arriving Petersen.
Maxim and Boka strive for a win
Stuttgart’s second-half began in same fashion as the first, with intense pressure. Alexandru Maxim and Vedad Ibisevic were as threatening as ever in front of the Bremen goal, but the visitors’ defence held firm. Santiago Garcia was ready and willing to power forward from left-back whenever possible, offering Bremen a much-needed outlet. Garcia’s counterpart, Stuttgart left-back Arthur Boka came close twice in succession to deciding the game with long-range shots in the 61st and 66th minutes, just two of Stuttgart’s twenty attempts on goal. As the game petered out, so did both sides’ attacking drive, and despite Maxim and Boka’s best attempts, Bremen’s defensive discipline earned them a point.