Freiburg and Hoffenheim competed to make the most defensive errors in their Bundesliga clash on Sunday, while Hamburg could not get a point in Frankfurt, despite a stirring effort from new signing Rafael van der Vaart.
Silly season has started early in the Bundesliga. Sunday saw a battle between two of the league's slowest starters - Freiburg, with one point from the first two games, took on Hoffenheim, with two defeats and an ugly defensive record to their name. And the game lived up to its billing in the most entertaining fashion, as both sides conceded simple goals.
Hoffenheim struck first in the second minute, when Sebastian Rudy's awkward free-kick was only half-heartedly cleared by the hosts, allowing defender Matthieu Delpierre to poke the ball home from close range.
But Hoffenheim's best period of the season lasted barely a quarter of an hour. In the 17th minute, Max Kruse passed the ball into the penalty area from the left, and the guest defenders seemed bamboozled as Karim Guedé reacted quickly to sweep the ball in.
Only ten minutes later, Freiburg had turned the game around almost by accident. Julian Schuster's cross from the right was somewhat speculative, but Hoffenheim's central defenders parted obligingly to allow Kruse to execute an undisturbed diving header past Tim Wiese .
Freiburg seemed to look more comfortable for the rest of the first half, and were making the running at the start of the second period. But in this comedy-of-errors game, nothing could be taken for granted, and the hosts gifted Hoffenheim an equalizer in the 57th minute, as Oliver Sorg clumsily attempted to deal with a pass from Takashi Usami and ended up shinning it into the path of Boris Vukcevic, who took full advantage.
But once again, Hoffenheim's joy didn't last long. After watching his defenders flounder in the first half, goalkeeper Wiese flailed embarrassingly at a straightforward corner in the 68th minute. The ball sailed through to the head of Fallou Diagne, who finished competently enough.
While the home crowd were still delightedly singing "Wiese - Wiese! Ha Ha Ha!" Hoffenheim only went and equalized again through Usami. The Japanese loanee executed a lovely turn to confuse the three defenders loitering around him and snapped a one-off shot into the bottom corner.
But there was plenty more fun and games left, and Freiburg sealed the game with two late goals in four minutes. The first came courtesy of yet another Wiese flap at a corner that found Cedric Makiadi alone at the far post. The second came through a deft touch from Kruse that put Sebastian Freis clear on goal with only Wiese to beat. By that time, the ex-Bremen goalkeeper was in no state to salvage a dreadful, but delirious afternoon.
Stumbling start for van der Vaart
In the other Sunday clash, Hamburg unleashed the messiah himself in attack - or at least Rafael van der Vaart, the 12.5-million euro ($16.4 million) signing from Tottenham, parachuted in to rescue HSV after their horrendous start to the season.
But the rescue mission did not begin well - hosts Frankfurt, sailing confidently with two wins in their sails, were two goals up within 18 minutes, and finally won 3-2, despite a desperate finish and a sterling effort from the new Dutch star.
The first came from Takashi Inui in the 13th minute, who made a brilliant diagonal run into the box from the left. At least three HSV defenders, spooked by the Japanese midfielder's directness, hovered skittishly as Inui struck low into the far corner.
The second was less graceful - a Frankfurt corner resulted in a brief pinball game inside the six-yard box, before new Canadian signing Olivier Occean put the static defenders out of their misery from a yard out.
Up to that point, Van der Vaart's only significant contribution had been a scorching free-kick, brilliantly saved by Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp. But Hamburg struggled to integrate the Dutch striker into their game.
HSV got themselves back into it just before halftime though, when van der Vaart's corner was sent back into the box by Latvian Artem Rudnev and Heiko Westermann did the rest. Then, just as HSV were beginning to believe, they were reduced to ten men when Petr Jiracek committed a rough tackle in a desperate attacking move and was - somewhat harshly - sent off.
That left Frankfurt to continue their dominance, and they duly extended their lead in the 53rd minute, when Hamburg lost possession outside their own area and Stefan Aigner crowned the resulting move across with a deft lob.
Slowly van der Vaart found a way into the game, and provided the assist for Heung-Min Son's 63rd minute goal, after a long kick from goalkeeper Rene Adler.
From then on, HSV gained strength from their increasing desperation - inspired by Van der Vaart, and substitute Dennis Diekmeier missing a great chance to equalize with 15 minutes to go.
But it was not enough, and the win gives Frankfurt three wins from three games. To the surprise of many a pundit, the promoted club are now second in the table behind only Bayern Munich.