Cologne - There were mixed results for two of the Bundesliga's European participants on Saturday, with FC Schalke 04 putting in a strong display to beat TSG 1899 Hoffenheim but VfL Wolfsburg suffering a first defeat of the year away to FC Augsburg. Elsewhere, SV Werder Bremen's good form continued with victory in Freiburg.
FC Schalke 04 3-1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
bundesliga.com rounds up the action from around the top-flight grounds...
FC Schalke 04 provided the best possible response to last week’s Revierderby defeat by notching a 3-1 home win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The Royal Blues dominated proceedings from the off at the Veltins Arena, going into the break with a 2-0 lead after exquisite strikes from Christian Fuchs and Max Meyer, with the latter making it three after the restart before Kevin Volland's consolation effort 15 minute from time.
Hoping to shake off Matchday 23’s defeat at bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund, Schalke started the match confidently, bossing both rhythm and possession against a deep-lying Hoffenheim side. Their dominance paid dividends twelve minutes into the game, Fuchs’ fine half-volley leaving Oliver Bauman with no chance between the 1899 sticks. The hosts then carved out several chances before Meyer doubled their advantage, the Schalke gem slotting home from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s pinpoint cross.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men remained the dominant side also after the break, continuously passing their way towards the visitors' goal. Choupo-Moting was at the heart of most their promising action and the Cameroon captain again setting up Meyer nicely for the 19-year-old to coolly beat Baumann. Hoffenheim threw bodies forward trying to find a way back into the game, but Volland’s strike from the edge of the box proved too little, too late on a disappointing afternoon for Markus Gisdol’s side.
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FC Augsburg 1-0 VfL Wolfsburg
VfL Wolfsburg lost ground on Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München after falling to their first competitive defeat in 2015 with a 1-0 reverse away to FC Augsburg.
With the strain of playing midweek fixtures prior to each of their last three Bundesliga matches starting to show, Wolfsburg looked off the pace against a hard-running Augsburg side, who took all three points thanks to Dominik Kohr’s second-half strike.
Augsburg on top
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking fielded a strong starting line-up, including Bas Dost, Andre Schürrle and Kevin De Bruyne, but they struggled to click in attack. The Wolves were at least compact in defence, though, restricting their hosts to just a few chances. Tobias Werner spurned a presentable opportunity after the Wolves failed to clear their lines and then also missed with a close-range diving header when unmarked just before half-time.
Augsburg were rewarded for their persistence after the break, however, when Naldo felled Abdul Rahman Baba in the box, with Werner stepping up to take the ensuing penalty. His effort was well saved by Wolves keeper Diego Benaglio, but Kohr was first to the rebound and rifled home for his maiden Bundesliga goal. Robin Knoche thought he had salvaged a point for Wolfsburg late on when his header found the net, but it was disallowed for a foul on the defender. The guests pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing period, but were unable to unlock the Augsburg defence and are now 11 points behind league leaders Bayern.
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SC Freiburg 0-1 SV Werder Bremen
A moment of individual brilliance from Franco Di Santo was enough to secure SV Werder Bremen another three points with a 1-0 win away to SC Freiburg.
The rejuvenated northern club were deserved winners overall, although they did not have things all their own way at the Schwarzwald-Stadion, where the hosts fought tooth and nail as they continue to battle against the drop.
Di Santo magic
The match began brightly with both teams looking to get forward at every opportunity, and it soon became an open, end-to-end encounter, although clear-cut chances were few and far between. Freiburg attacker Jonathan Schmid, playing in an unfamiliar role as a striker, went close just before the half-hour mark after latching on to a long ball, but his shot was saved by Raphael Wolf. Di Santo showed him how it is done shortly afterwards, controlling the ball on the left-hand edge of the penalty area, turning and hammering a wicked shot into the top-right corner to give the visitors a half-time lead.
Freiburg re-emerged for the second half with renewed vigour and pegged Bremen back into their own half for long spells. However, they lacked a cutting edge and struggled to play the crucial killer pass needed to unsettle a well-drilled visiting backline. Bremen might have put the game to bed when substitute Cedrick Makiadi found himself free in front of goal, but he couldn't bring the ball down quick enough and the chance was wasted. Nevertheless, Viktor Skripnik's charges succeeded in slowing the pace down and seeing the result over the line to keep them in touch with the European places.
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