Borussia Dortmund seemed on track for a victory that would send them third, but Mainz had other ideas. In Freiburg, Christian Streich's side held on to pick up a valuable three points against Hertha Berlin.
Mainz 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
(Latza 83‘ - Reus 3’)
Danny Latza’s towering late header earned Mainz a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund, who once again failed to make a strong opening passage count for more than one point.
Dortmund wasted no time in opening the scoring, with Marco Reus latching onto Andre Schürrle’s through ball to stroke the ball low beyond Jonas Lössl. The strike was Reus’s 11th in 14 games versus Mainz, with no team on the receiving end of the Germany striker’s devastating finishing more often.
Dortmund appeared to be cruising towards a narrow, but vital, victory that would have sent them third, but the game had one final twist. Ousmane Dembele was slow to close down Levin Öztunali’s cross from the right, and Latza beat Lukasz Piszczek at the far post to nod in an invaluable late equalizer.
Freiburg 2-1 Hertha
(Haberer 39', Petersen 87' - Schieber 88')
Despite a dramatic finish, Hertha Berlin's torrid start to the new year continued as Freiburg claimed victory on Sunday to move into the top 10. A tepid affair took a while to get going, but shortly before the break Freiburg's two best players combined for the opener. Vincenzo Grifo had the vision to pick out Jannik Haberer in the box and the striker's first touch gave him space to shoot. The striker's low effort left Rune Jarstein with no chance and Freiburg led at the break.
Hertha nearly scrambled in an equalizer right at the start of the second half, but Freiburg cleared just in time. The pace of the game had increased, and with the quality. Former Freiburg man Vladimir Darida forced a good save from Alexander Schwolow at one end, and then Florian Niederlechner tried his luck at the other end.
With the game entering its final passage, Hertha nearly found an equalizer from a corner but Freiburg scrambled and threw bodies in the way of the effort. The visitors failed to produce enough real chances to deserve anything from the game, but they nearly secured a point in a furious end to the game.
Nils Petersen came off the bench to score a low drive after Hertha's defense was caught ball watching, but a minute later Julian Schieber poked home to give Hertha a glimmer of hope. Sadly, it was too little, too late for the side from the capital.
Matchday 18 as it happened: