DAVID SMITH - Sunday, May 22, 2016
Timothy Chandler helped Frankfurt keep a grip on their Bundesliga survival while Royal-Dominique Fennell and Würzburg took a first-leg advantage in their quest for promotion.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 - 1 FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler's assist on the game-tying goal helped Frankfurt offset a first-half own-goal on Thursday, giving them a fighting chance to retain their spot in next season's Bundesliga season.
The American defender, who had been used as a late impact substitute in Frankfurt's final two games of the season, was selected by head coach Niko Kovac to start on the right side of the defense.
The hosts dominated the game from start to finish, and were unlucky to find themselves facing a 1-0 deficit at the half despite being clearly a cut above their lower-league opposition.
In the 43rd minute, Nürnberg's Sebastian Kerk lofted a long free kick from the right flank directly to the edge of the six-yard box. The Frankfurt defenders were well-positioned to keep their opposition from reaching the well-placed ball, however team captain Marco Russ inadvertently knocked it past his own keeper, gifting the visitors the lead.
Frankfurt pushed ahead, however, and were justly rewarded when Chandler rewarded his coach's confidence by setting up the tying goal with 25 minutes remaining.
The former Nürnberg player chested the ball down at the upper right corner of the area and quickly cut to the middle before chipping a short pass forward to Mijat Gacinovic. The Serbian youngster weaved through a trio of defenders and beat keeper Raphael Schäfer to bring the hosts on even terms.
Frankfurt still have work to do, as Nürnberg's away goal means that they must score at least one goal in Monday's return leg to have any hope of winning the tie.
An outright win or a draw with more than two goals per team will see them come out ahead, while a scoreless draw or any Nürnberg win will favor the hosts.
Chandler, who was selected by Jürgen Klinsmann for the final Copa América roster, will have no time to celebrate or lament Monday's result, as he will almost immediately board a flight to Dallas to join the rest of his US teammates for the pre-tournament training camp.
Würzburger Kickers 2 - 0 MSV Duisburg
Royal-Dominique Fennell and Würzburg made a strong case for promotion to Germany's 2nd Bundesliga, once again putting in a dominating defensive performance in a shut-out, first-leg victory over Duisburg.
Würzburg wasted no time in stamping their claim on the proceedings, with Richard Weil putting away his spot kick in the 10th minute after Duisburg defender Kingsley Onuegbu fouled Peter Kurzweg in the process of defending a free kick.
Momentum swung back and forth, with each of the two teams coming dangerously close to scoring, until Würzburg finally capitalized with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Nejmeddin Daghfous spotted late substitute Daniel Nagy with a step on the defense, and hit a perfect cross to the edge of the six-yard box for the Hungarian attacker to slot past the Duisburg keeper.
Würzburg are firmly in the driver's seat, as a draw or even one-goal loss in Tuesday's away leg will see them through.