Jonathan Schmid was on target for Freiburg as
Jonathan Schmid was on target for Freiburg as

Relegation contenders get the better of European contenders

Cologne - In three Saturday afternoon encounters which pitted relegation contenders against European pretenders, it was the sides battling the drop who fared slightly better with SC Freiburg emerging victorious and SC Paderborn 07 and 1. FC Köln picking up what could prove to be pivotal points come the end of the season.

SC Freiburg 2-0 FC Augsburg rounds up what went down in Saturday’s remaining fixtures…

SC Freiburg moved out of the bottom three for the first time since Matchday 19 as they picked up an invaluable 2-0 win over FC Augsburg following a back-and-forth encounter that could have gone either way.

There was little to choose between the two sides during the opening half an hour and, though Augsburg enjoyed the greater share of possession, neither side was making much headway in the final third. However, the hosts were the first to click into gear and went close to an opener twice in quick succession as Oliver Sorg’s long-range effort drew a strong save out of Marwin Hitz, before Tobias Werner was forced to clear Nicolas Höfler’s goal-bound header off the line.

Schmidt proves Freiburg’s saving grace

Augsburg had the final say of the half though when Raul Bobadilla cut in from the right to sting the palms of Roman Bürki. The Argentinian was at it again after the restart as the visitors came out of the changing rooms with all guns blazing. This time coming off the left flank, Bobadilla still couldn’t get the better of Bürki, who also had to be alert minutes later to prevent half-time substitute Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg putting Augsburg ahead.

Freiburg’s dominance had dissipated approaching the hour mark, but they should still have broken the deadlock when Admir Mehmedi somehow headed over from inside the six-yard box. The Swiss striker’s error was atoned for, though, when Jonathan Schmid fired through a crowded area to put an end to the hosts’ run of 405 minutes without a goal, before Nils Petersen came off the bench to put the game to rest courtesy of a powerful finish at the end of a well-worked counter attack.

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1. FC Köln 1-1 SV Werder Bremen

A late penalty saw 1. FC Köln battle back from a goal down to snatch a point in a 1-1 draw at home to SV Werder Bremen, ensuring they remained at arms’ length from the relegation zone.

In Kevin Wimmer and Franco Di Santo, both sides were able to welcome back key first-team regulars from suspension, and the duo were involved in the first chance of the encounter as Di Santo outmuscled the Austrian for a close-range chest and volley that cleared the crossbar. Köln were offering little in terms of an attacking threat and duly fell behind when a corner found its way to Davie Selke at the back post, who reacted quickly to beat Timo Horn with a well-taken snapshot.

Late penalty divvies up the points

Falling behind sparked Köln into life, however, with Anthony Ujah firing just past the far post and Deyverson rattling the side-netting, yet for all their pressure at the backend of the half, an equaliser was not forthcoming before the break. There was little change to proceedings after the restart as the hosts looked to keep themselves on the front foot, but with more mistakes creeping into their build-up play, the Billy Goats remained susceptible to Bremen’s counter-attacking style of play.

Chances were few and far between, with two of the best falling to Yuya Osako, who first failed to turn Jonas Hector’s drilled cross in at the near post, before scooping over on the turn from Deyverson’s lay-off. Only one team really looked like scoring and, after Raphael Wolf kept out Marcel Risse’s deflected effort, a foul by Santiago Garcia on Bard Finne inside the area allowed captain Matthias Lehmann to convert an 88th-minute spot kick, rescuing a deserved share of the spoils for the hosts.

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SC Paderborn 07 0-0 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Struggling SC Paderborn 07 dropped into the Bundesliga's bottom two for the first time this season after being held to a goalless draw by ten-man TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Benteler-Arena.

The Sinsheim-based club spurned several good chances to break the deadlock in the first half, but the visitors’ cause wasn’t helped when Ermin Bicakcic was sent off for a second bookable offence after the restart. However, the visitors survived a late Paderborn onslaught to secure a deserved point.

Chances at both ends

Markus Gisdol’s side enjoyed the better goalscoring opportunities in an open start to the match, Bicakcic sending a close-range header into the arms of Paderborn keeper Lukas Kruse, before Eugen Polanski fired wide from the edge of the penalty area. Kevin Volland was next to test Kruse with another low drive, but die Kraichgauer almost fell behind against the run of play when Srdjan Lakic broke free on the right flank to unleash a powerful shot that flew just wide of Oliver Baumann’s upright.

Paderborn upped the ante at the beginning of the second half and Jin-Su Kim did well to deflect Lukas Rupp’s goal-bound effort wide of the target, before Alban Meha’s sent a 20-yard free-kick a yard over the crossbar. Hoffenheim were reduced to ten men midway through the second half when Bicakcic was shown a second yellow card for an overzealous tackle on Mario Vrancic, but Andre Breitenreiter’s side failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and drop into the automatic relegation spots.

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