In his first game as new coach of struggling side Hamburg, Mirko Slomka has come away with a 3-0 win over Dortmund. A ticket trick couldn't save Stuttgart, but the keepers in Nuremberg saved everything and made history.
What started as a sad day for Hamburg fans mourning the loss of Hermann Rieger, the club's beloved masseuse of 26 years, ended in absolute jubilation as Hamburg dispatched Borussia Dortmund 3-0 on Saturday in Mirko Slomka's debut as the team's head coach.
Wearing black armbands in Rieger's honor, Hamburg were clearly the better team against a Dortmund side that never seemed to find its rhythm on the 22nd match day.
Hamburg's final goal was fitting for their dominant form and Dortmund's lack of anything resembling a strategy. Hakan Calhanoglu lined up about 40 meters (131 feet) away and directly in front of the goal for a direct free kick. Rather than pass the ball off, Calhanoglu took a crack on the goal. His shot never seemed to stop gathering speed and whistled past Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller - whose last-ditch leap to block the shot came far too late.
"This high of a score wasn't entirely earned," said Slomka after the match. "But we played good defense over large periods of the game and the team can be proud of these points."
Wolfsburg nears rarified air of Champions League
Leverkusen, coming off a thrashing at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League earlier in the week that effectively ended their hopes of a European title, were in an excellent position to put distance between themselves and third-place Dortmund in the table after Dortmund failed to collect any points in Hamburg. A win on the road against Wolfsburg would have given second-place Leverkusen a four-point lead over Dortmund.
But, fifth-place Wolfsburg had something to play for too: a whiff of the Champions League spots in the Bundesliga table. In the end, Wolfsburg came up with a much better performance and beat Leverkusen 3-1. The win put them just two points shy of Schalke - who currently occupy a Champions League qualifying spot in fourth place and who only managed a draw against Mainz on Friday. It also pulled Wolfsburg to just three points behind Dortmund, who currently would directly qualify for the Champions League.
The teams went into halftime tied at one after Bas Dost's 13th minute goal for Wolfsburg and goal by Leverkusen's Sidney Sam to close out the half. Wolfsburg went ahead in the 58th minute on Luiz Gustavo's close-range goal, but the real nail in the coffin for Leverkusen came on a penalty awarded in the 73rd minute. Leverkusen's keeper Bernd Leno made an excellent save of Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty, but the ball bounced back directly in front of the goal. With no Leverkusen defenders in sight, Rodriguez raced in and put away the follow up.
"Wolfsburg punished our lack of concentration," Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypiä said after the match.
Stuttgart slide further
Officials at Stuttgart - aware of the six-game losing streak the team had coming into Saturday's game - offered its season-ticket holders a special deal in an effort to fill the stands for a less-than-enticing match against Hertha Berlin. All season ticket holders were allowed to bring two guests to the game at a price of 2.50 euros ($3.43) per ticket.
While the gimmick worked - all the reduced tickets were sold - the rock-bottom price only bought fans a seat for another disheartening loss for Stuttgart. The 1-2 debacle marked their seventh loss in a row. Maybe a repeat of the offer for Stuttgart's next home game against Braunschweig in two weeks will yield better results.
Ten-man Nuremberg hold on for win
Eintracht Braunschweig were in a very good position heading into halftime of their away match against FC Nuremberg. They had a 1-0 lead thanks to a header from Dominick Kumbela, and had a man-advantage after Nuremberg's Per Nilsson was sent off for interfering with Havard Nielsen.
Despite being in an uphill battle, Nuremberg came out of the locker room on an absolute tear, scoring twice in 96 seconds to take a 2-1 lead they would never concede.
The first goal came just 10 seconds into the second half from Hiroshi Kiyotake - the fastest second-half goal of the current Bundesliga season. Just over a minute later, it was substitute Tomas Pekhart with Nuremberg's second goal.
Braunschweig had two penalty opportunities to add to their lead, but both kicks were saved by Nuremberg keeper Raphael Schäfer. Braunschweig's keeper Marjan Petkovic also saved a penalty, marking the first time in Bundesliga history that three penalties in a single game failed to yield a goal.
Gladbach give away points
While Hoffenheim wasn't able to equal their magic comeback of 2009 - winning 4-2 against Borussia Mönchengladbach after trailing 2-0 – they were able to at least pick up a point after falling behind by the same margin.
Gladbach, playing at home, took the 2-0 lead into halftime and held it for the first 12 minutes of the second half. That's when Hoffenheim's Roberto Firmino pulled one back for Hoffenheim. Gladbach still held the advantage until a foul from Martin Stranzl on Fabian Johnson led to a penalty. After the three missed penalties in the Nuremberg-Braunschweig match, Sejad Salihovic proved that at least one man knew how to take a spot kick in the Bundesliga on Saturday and scorched one past Gladbach keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen.
The draw is Gladbach's seventh match in a row without a win, while Hoffenheim have had two wins and two draws from their last four matches.
Late goals save Augsburg
Freiburg looked to have a pretty good handle on the match against Augsburg on a rainy day on their home pitch, leading 2-1 as late as the 78th minute. But Augsburg turned the tables late in the match, scoring three goals in the final 12 minutes to take a decisive 4-2 win on the road.
Paul Verhaegh tied the match for Augsburg in the 78th minute, while Halil Altintop put the guests into the lead in the 84th minute. Andre Hahn added Augsburg's final goal in the closing seconds of time added on.
In Friday's match, Mainz and Schalke played to a scoreless draw.