Six minutes of madness have propelled Hoffenheim to a 6-2 win over Wolfsburg, dealing a blow to their opponents' European ambitions in the process. Elsewhere, Frankfurt snatched a crucial late victory from Stuttgart.
Frankfurt had been destined for defeat before rising to triumph 2-1 against Stuttgart, earning themselves three points in their fight to avoid relegation. But despite the electric end to the match, it was impossible to go past the drama of Hoffenheim's win.
Hoffenheim's performances have been as varied as a Robert Louis Stevenson novel this season, and it was no different against Wolfsburg on Sunday. Their defense has often been as desperate as Dr. Jekyll, while their talented front half has the ruthlessness of Mr. Hyde. Their two personas were on show in their win over Wolfsburg, but it was their Mr. Hyde side during six first-half minutes that split the game right open.
Starting as bright as the sunshine that bathed their home stadium, Hoffenheim took a fourth-minute lead through Roberto Firmino's dexterous effort after he arrived at pace to meet an Anthony Modeste cross. Wolfsburg were equal just nine minutes later when an unmarked Bas Dost headed home his third goal in six matches.
Then came the insanity. The score line was still 1-1 as the 37th minute approached - it was 4-1 six minutes later, after Niklas Süle first nodded home and Modeste claimed a rapid-fire double.
A semblance of sanity returned in the second half, but both teams still carved out chances. Industrious midfielder Sebastian Rudy and French forward Modeste - again - went close, while Wolfsburg's half-time substitute Daniel Caligiuri also tried his luck before the hour mark.
There was still plenty of time for two more goals, however. Wolfsburg made it 4-2 when Ivan Perisic slid home, but Hoffenheim replied after Salihovic converted from the spot in the 82nd minute. Christian Träsch had been sent off conceding the penalty when he slid in on Kevin Volland. Accompanying his departure from the game was any hope Wolfsburg could claim a comeback. Sven Schipplock scored his sixth goal of the season after coming on as a late substitute to complete a wild score line.
Frankfurt's late show
In Frankfurt, after a tepid start, Stuttgart took the lead in the 32nd minute. The visitors broke and Alexandru Maxim fed Martin Harnik on the edge of the area, with the Austrian midfielder cutting back onto his right foot before shooting past Kevin Trapp in the Frankfurt goal.
Understandably, the game struggled to live up to Sunday’s earlier fixture. It did liven considerably, however, when Frankfurt were awarded a penalty only to have it overruled by the linesman. Stuttgart then should have scored a second on 78 minutes when Arthur Boka sped down the left and sent a cross into the path of the recalled Maxim.
The Romania international attacker - known for his sublime skill - needed simply to tap the ball into an open net. Instead, he scuffed his shot wide. The miss was compounded a minute later when Rosenthal raced onto Alexander Meier’s header and threaded a shot through Ulreich’s legs.
Then came the late twist. This time, it was Meier on the end of things. Johannes Flum beat Georg Niedermeier on the right and his cross was tucked home by the Frankfurt captain.
The message in the celebration was clear; with one sweep of his right leg, Meier had stolen Frankfurt an unlikely victory, put to bed their Europa League exit on Thursday and driven valuable space between his team and the relegation zone.
Stuttgart, meanwhile, stay just goal difference from the bottom three.