Cologne - SV Werder Bremen made it five wins from five, while both Borussia Mönchengladbach and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim left it late to pick up three points on Matchday 21's goal-filled Saturday afternoon.
SV Werder Bremen 3-2 FC Augsburg
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SV Werder Bremen moved to within five points of the top four thanks to an entertaining 3-2 home win over FC Augsburg.
Tobias Werner’s 78th-minute strike made for an anxious finale, but Bremen held on to extend their winning league run to five.
Bremen flew out of the traps, with Davie Selke and Clemens Fritz going close, before Assani Lukimya rose to head home a clever free kick from Zlatko Junuzovic inside ten minutes. Augsburg had offered little, but pulled level when Ragnar Klavan grabbed his second goal in as many games from a Raul Bobadilla corner. Parity lasted just two minutes, though, as Franco Di Santo sent Manninger the wrong way from the penalty spot after Klavan was adjudged to have fouled Selke. Failing to learn their lesson, Augsburg were caught cold yet again late in the half when Theo Gebre Selassie outjumped his marker to power in another cracking Junuzovic delivery.
The Green-Whites continued in much the same vein after the restart as Junuzovic rattled the bar from range. The hosts kept Manninger on his toes, none more so than when the veteran stopper was forced off his line to clean up following a mistake by Africa Cup of Nations finalist Abdul Rahman Baba. Junuzovic struck the post with a wicked inswinging free kick, before Augsburg pulled one back through Werner after Raphael Wolf made a meal of a Shawn Parker corner. Werner could have levelled for the visitors, but was unable to make full contact with Dong-Won Ji’s flighted cross.
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Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 1. FC Köln
Granit Xhaka’s injury-time header gave Borussia Mönchengladbach a dramatic Rhineland derby win over 1. FC Köln.
The Billy Goats looked to be heading home with a priceless point after a typically dogged defensive display, only to concede from a corner kick at the last.
The derby banter was in full flow between both sets of fans prior to kick-off, but it was hosts Gladbach who quickly locked down possession. Köln goalkeeper Timo Horn was eventually forced into action to tip Julian Korb’s deflected strike over the crossbar, before Megrim Mavraj put in a superbly-timed challenge to deny Raffael a clear sight of goal. Marcel Risse chanced his arm from range for the visitors, bringing the first save of the afternoon out of Yann Sommer towards the end of the half.
A flowing Gladbach move almost produced the first goal as Raffael released Max Kruse, who was unable to steer his effort past Horn, before Xhaka stung the steely palms of Köln’s unwavering No1. Lucien Favre’s men couldn’t have done much more, but their persistence was rewarded when the effervescent Xhaka powered in second-half substitute Thorgan Hazard’s right-wing corner in the first minute of added time.
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TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-1 VfB Stuttgart
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim took the spoils in the Baden-Württemberg derby after a last-gasp 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Roberto Firmino opened the scoring for the hosts after the half-hour mark, but Stuttgart ended a run of 446 minutes without a goal thanks to Gotoku Sakai’s deflected strike before the break. After threatening on the counter throughout the second period, the hosts carved out an injury-time winner through Sebastian Rudy.
The classic derby
With local bragging rights on offer, it was a cagey beginning in Sinsheim as Stuttgart wasted several free-kicks, while Hoffenheim attempted to pass their way through a packed visiting defence. Kevin Volland fired the game’s first chance high and wide on the quarter-hour mark, but it took 15 further minutes for the opening goal of a tense affair to arrive, Firmino taking advantage of Stuttgart’s failure to clear Pirmin Schwegler’s set-piece. Eight minutes later, the hosts suffered their own defensive mishap from a dead ball as Sakai was allowed too much space to equalise in the 39th minute.
The leveller ensured Huub Stevens’ side emerged galvanised after the restart, taking the game to their hosts, although struggling to create many clear-cut chances. Adam Hlousek wasted a promising free kick, while the best opportunity fell to Firmino at the other end in the 58th minute, but Sven Ulreich was equal to The Brazilian’s effort. Markus Gisdol’s men continued to threaten as the game drew to a close, finally getting their reward with Rudy’s calm finish in stoppage time.
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