Munich - An inspired Shinji Okazaki led 1. FSV Mainz 05 to a 3-2 win at Hamburger SV while there were important wins for SC Freiburg and Eintracht Braunschweig at the foot of the Bundesliga on Matchday 17.
Hamburger SV 2-3 1. FSV Mainz 05
bundesliga.com rounds up Saturday afternoon's action...
Shinji Okazaki turned on the style to earn Mainz all three points with a 3-2 win at Hamburger SV.
Hamburg appeared particularly keen to end 2013 on a high note and, inspired by their captain Rafael Van der Vaart, they took the game to their host, taking the lead after 20 minutes. The Mainz defence was all at sea when Maximilian Beister saw the unmarked Calhanoglu to his left, and the 19-year-old managed to thread his shot past two defenders and goalkeeper Loris Karius to notch his sixth goal in as many games.
Okazaki on fire
Everything seemed to be going to plan, but Okazaki had other ideas. Just two minutes into the second half, he was put through by Yunus Malli, and he beat Jaroslav Drobny with aplomb to bring Mainz level with his seventh of the season – a personal best. Okazaki then delivered his first assist of the season to set up Nicolai Müller to complete the turnaround in less than three minutes.
Van der Vaart soon put Hamburg back on level terms, poking home from close range, before the hosts lost Tomas Rincon to a second yellow card. They then lost a point as Okazaki struck with almost the last kick of the game, his eighth of the season earning Mainz the spoils.
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SC Freiburg 2-1 Hannover 96
SC Freiburg ended 2013 as they mean to start 2014, with a 2-1 win over Hannover 96 thanks to Admir Mehmedi's brace.
Freiburg coach Christian Streich had asked for his team to draw on all of their reserves of energy for this, their final instalment of 2013, and Mehmedi certainly followed orders. The Swiss striker was a constant threat to the Hannover defence and he gave the hosts the lead by keeping his composure inside the penalty area to stroke the ball into the bottom corner. He doubled their lead when he intentionally diverted Jonathan Schmid's volley in, enabling Freiburg to go into the interval with a lead for the first time this season.
Freiburg's reaction to their two-goal advantage was to retreat in an attempt to put the points in the bank. By doing that, however, they invited Hannover to put them under pressure - a dangerous tactic considering Mirko Slomka's men had recovered from a three-goal deficit to draw 3-3 with 1. FC Nürnberg a week ago. Leonardo Bittencourt nearly punished them with the first real shot to test Oliver Baumann, but the keeper made a smart save.
Baumann had little more work to do, although he was beaten late on by a Bittencourt far-post header. Nevertheless, Freiburg were able to celebrate a win which takes them to within a point of safety, and gives them reason to be optimistic for the remainder of the season.
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Eintracht Braunschweig 1-0 1899 Hoffenheim
Braunschweig ended 2013 on a high note, becoming only the second side this season to prevent 1899 Hoffenheim from scoring as they clinched a narrow 1-0 win on home soil courtesy of a Torsten Oehrl spot kick.
The hosts began brightly and were peppering Jens Grahl’s goal with early efforts as Omar Elabdellaoui chipped over in a one-on-one situation before the offside flag ruled out Oehrl's first effort. With 1899 struggling to get to grips with their livewire opponents, Grahl did well to deny Orhan Ademi, but could do little about the opener. Sven Schipplock was penalised for a foul inside the area approaching the half-hour mark, allowing Oehrl to net for a second game in succession, this time from the penalty spot, to send Eintracht in at the break with a one-goal lead.
Lions hold firm
Sejad Salihovic’s long-range effort was as close as Hoffenheim came to scoring in the first-half and things didn’t look like changing after the restart, as Grahl produce a inspired reflex save to prevent Ademi finding the net. With an hour played though, it was only a goal line clearance from Mirko Boland that kept Jannik Vestergaard from leveling the scores, a chance which momentarily gave Hoffenheim a greater impetus in proceedings.
Yet Braunschweig still seemed to be a step ahead of 1899, as Domi Kumbela almost made an immediate impact off the bench by heading just wide of the target from a corner. The visitors were handed a lifeline late one when Timo Perthel received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, but despite the man advantage, Hoffenheim couldn’t produce the final ball to unlock their hosts, who stay bottom following 1 FC Nürnberg's draw with FC Schalke 04.
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