Werder Bremen earned themselves a bit of breathing space in their battle to avoid the drop by beating bottom-placed Darmstadt 2-0 thanks to a Max Kruse brace.
Bremen 2-0 Darmstadt
Goals: 1-0 Kruse (75' pen.), 2-0 Kruse (90+2')
Felix Wiedwald was at full stretch to turn an Aytac Sulu header over before Antonio Colak went even closer for the guests, hitting the post. Darmstadt's pressure grew and grew in the first half with the hosts penned in, failing even to show any incision on the break as Darmstadt goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes was a mere spectator throughout the first half.
The second half started with Bremen's first big chance of the game with Claudio Pizarro heading just wide of the post and that was followed by a good chance for Theodor Gebre Selassie as the hosts emerged a transformed team. Their pressure paid off with Kruse converting from the penalty spot and then keeping his cool to add a late second.
Man of the Match
Kruse launched Bremen's second-half recovery with a cross which Claudio Pizarro headed wide, and he then showed the strength of character to take a crucial penalty for his side, and score a priceless second goal to wrap up victory.
With now just 11 games of the season remaining, Darmstadt's hopes of survival have been dealt a severe blow by this defeat which leaves them 11 points adrift of safety having picked up just 12 from 23 games so far this season.
- Heuer Fernandes made his starting debut for Darmstadt, having made his only other Bundesliga appearance as a substitute against Bremen in the reverse fixture.Sulu made his 50th Bundesliga appearance.Kruse put away his ninth penalty in the Bundesliga, preserving his 100% record from the spot.
Bremen: Wiedwald - Gebre Selassie, Sane, Moisander, Bauer - Fritz (c) (39' Grillitsch), Junuzovic (31' Eggestein) - Bartels, Gnabry – Pizarro (78' Kainz), Kruse
Coach: Alexander Nouri
Darmstadt: Heuer Fernandes - Sirigu, Sulu (c), Niemeyer, Holland (78' Boyd) - Heller, Gondorf, Vrancic (72' Guwara), Altintop, Sam (87' Schipplock) – Colak
Coach: Torsten Frings