As a result of a 2-1 victory against Bochum, Nuremberg have assured themselves a spot in the first Bundesliga next season. Mönchengladbach also managed to secure its position, practically sealing Bochum's fate.
Nuremberg's Daun scored to help his club stay in the Bundesliga
Last season, the fans of Bochum feted Peter Neururer as a hero. After all, Bochum made it to the UEFA Cup for just the second time in the club's history. But after the club's heartbreaking exit from the competition in the first round, the Bundesliga season turned into a nightmare.
And the nightmare has become reality after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Nuremberg. Mönchengladbach's draw on Sunday with Hamburg SV granted Bochum their fifth visit to the second division since 1993, with Möchengladbach more or less securing their position in the Bundesliga. The team was indebted to goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who demonstrated his skill with a fingertip save when Emile Mpenza saw his chance in the third minute. Keller managed to keep Hamburg's forwards at bay throughout the match, which ended 0-0.
Also on Sunday, Borussia Dortmund took a first-half lead against Werder Bremen, thanks to a goal by Tomas Rosicky, and continued to hold them off for a 1-0 win, hurting Bremen's chances of making it back into the Champions League. Bremen's Johan Micoud missed two good chances and Mohamed Zidan nearly scored with a deflected shot in the game's last minute.
Nerves showing most of the match
Nuremberg were also all but clear of the relegation zone heading into this important match. Yes, they were six points ahead of Bochum, but stranger things have happened in the last weeks of a Bundesliga season. They didn't want that to happen against Bochum. And it showed, in the first 20 minutes, neither side could get untracked. Nuremberg proved to be a little more professional in their passing while Bochum could seldom string more than two passes together.
Heads up: Nuremberg's Marek Nikl (right) wins a headball duel against Bochum's Vratislav Lokvenc
Finally, Nuremberg won a duel at midfield and Marek Mintal found striker Markus Daun all alone at the midfield circle. He raced down alone to the Bochum net, just managed to get the ball past keeper Peter Skov-Jensen. The ball bounced off the left post and into the net.
Bochum were not shocked at falling behind. It's a situation they have been accustomed to this season. They couldn't crack the Nuremberg defense which had fallen back into its own end -- also nothing new for Bochum this season.
More action in the second-half
The precarious situation of the Ruhr Valley club was quite obvious entering the second half. Yet they could take heart in the fact that other clubs threatened by relegation, namely Mainz and Rostock, were also down in their matches.
Can't keep good friends apart: Again Nuremberg's Marek Nikl (back) goes up against Bochum's Vratislav Lokvenc
Nevertheless, Bochum remained calm. In the first 15 minutes, both teams played cautiously. Bochum did not want to fall behind by two goals too soon. For Nuremberg the clock was simply their friend.
Bochum's striker Edu then had the golden opportunity in the 72nd minute when he received a long pass inside the Bochum penalty box but Nuremberg's keeper Raphael Schäfer made a great save to prevent the equalizer -- and new life for Bochum.
The near-goal gave Bochum incentive to try harder, to push ahead. And that was exactly what Nuremberg was betting on. In the 84th minute, Bochum were caught too far up front. Nuremberg took advantage of this with ice in their veins on a three-against-two chance. Marek Mintal showed just why he is the league's leading goal scorer and coolly scored his 23rd goal of the season. That was the death knell for Bochum who then managed to score a consolation goal in injury time.
Mainz to stay in Bundesliga
Mainz' Benjamin Weigelt (right) can't stop Munich's Roy Makaay. Makaay would score twice to shoot down Mainz who despite the loss are the winners of the day -- they are staying in the first division next season
Along with Nuremberg, new boys Mainz are staying in the Bundesliga despite a 4-2 loss at the hands of champions Bayern Munich. Their coach Jürgen Klopp got a beer shower after a game that his side contested hotly in the first hour but Roy Makaay found the net twice in the last 30 minutes to make it clear to Mainz that Bayern plays a level of soccer a notch above the rest of the Bundesliga competition.
Rostock suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Leverkusen and together with Bochum will be relegated.