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UEFA Hopes Fade for Wolfsburg

Nuremberg edged away from the relegation zone on Sunday after securing a 1-0 victory over Wolfsburg. On Saturday Bremen's recent troubles at home continued with a 1-0 loss to Hertha Berlin.

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Berlin's Marcelinho, left, is acrobatic and scores gamewinners

Nuremberg's Stefan Kiessling saved the day for his team after scoring a controversial header which was allowed by referee Markus Merk. The goal left Wolfsburg in ninth place, and with just five rounds remaining, their chances of climbing to the eighth spot and qualifying for the UEFA Cup are fading.

In Sunday's other match, VfL Bochum beat Kaiserslautern 2-1 and remain 16th in the standings with 29 points. one behind 15th-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach and two behind Mainz, who are 14th on 31 points.

On Saturday, Berlin midfielder Marcelinho kicked his Hertha to victory, solidifying the team's dreams of playing in Europe next season.

The home field usually makes a difference in the Bundesliga, but Werder Bremen has found out that it doesn't guarantee victory. For the third home game in a row, the reigning champions did not walk off the pitch as winners, losing 1-0 to Hertha Berlin. The hero of the match was colorful midfielder Marcelinho, who scored in the 30th minute.

The Brazilian Marcelinho, who speaks little German, was able to express himself after the match on television broadcaster Premiere.

"I am very happy about the goal," were his words in simple, but correct, German.

Bremen frustration

Bremen vs. Berlin

Bremen's Frank Fahrenhorst, left, made the mistake that led to the Berlin goal

In their last three matches at the Weser Stadium, Thomas Schaaf's normally high-scoring club has had problems finding the net. Two weeks ago they scored just one goal in a 2-1 loss to Stuttgart. Four weeks back, they played a scoreless draw against Mainz. The problems continued against Berlin.

Despite dictating the pace of the match, Berlin's defense, particularly interior defender Josip Simunic, stood firm. On those occasions where Bremen cracked the defensive line, goalkeeper Christian Fiedler was on the spot and had to more than earn his salary in this match.

Bremen vs. Berlin

Berlin's Josip Simunic, left, was a bulwark in the Berlin defense

Bremen had to do without German international striker Miroslav Klose. In his place, Schaaf started Nelson Valdez next to Ivan Klasnic. Despite some good, but not excellent, chances for Bremen in the first 15 minutes, it was obvious that the two don't play with each other too often. There were numerous passes between the two that missed their mark.

Yet Klasnic's talent came to the fore when he delivered a lightning-speed shot from the left side in the 13th minute. Goalkeeper Fiedler could only put his hands in front of his face as he barely parried the ball.

Berlin : masters of the counterattack

As Bremen pushed ahead, Berlin sat back and waited to counter. In the 30th minute, team captain Arne Friedrich won a ball at midfield and launched a long pass up field. The man waiting under the ball, Marcelinho, benefitted from a defensive mistake by Frank Fahrenhorst, He took the ball on one bounce, moved into the Bremen penalty box and let loose a rocket that screamed into the top of the net.

Werder Bremen - Hertha BSC Berlin

Thomas Schaaf has seen his players make numerous mistakes lately, but said on Premiere that they are team mistakes. "Certainly there were individual mistakes but we don't single out someone and say he's at fault." But on this occasion, Fahrenhorst made a terrible error in judgment, which just can't be done against a man like Marcelinho.

For the next 60 minutes, Bremen played desperate and disorganized soccer that lacked the creativity that carried them to the Bundesliga title last season. Now, Bremen, with 50 points, is tied with Berlin, although 12 points behind league leader Bayern. Berlin, on the other hand, has the Champions League on its mind. Schalke and Stuttgart both fell, making the fight for second and third place increasingly interesting.

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