DAVID SMITH - Monday, December 15, 2008
Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach's loss on Saturday ensured they will go into the break in last place while Gregg Berhalter helped to salvage a home point for 1860 Munich on Sunday afternoon.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Neven Subotic came out victorious in the battle of the yanks on Friday night, as he and Borussia Dortmund defeated Michael Bradley and last-place Borussia Mönchengladbach to head into the winter break in sixth place.
What has been a tough first half-season so far 'Gladbach ended on an appropriate note as fell to their fourth consecutive loss and never seemed to be in the game, despite having a man advantage for the final 52 minutes.
Conversely, the win allowed Dortmund to maintain their undefeated record in the Westfalen Stadium and remain on the cusp of a spot for European competition, only three points behind fifth place Bayer Leverkusen.
In what started out as a fairly tame affair with neither team able to muster any great chances, Egyptian striker Mohamed Zidan finally put the home team on the board first in the 35th minute, as he chested down poor clearance from Foals' defender Steve Gohouri, and hit a laser strike from 25 yards out to the upper left corner of Christofer Heimeroth's goal for 1-0.
Three minutes later, the visitors were handed a lifeline when Dortmund midfielder Tamas Hajnal was sent off for his second yellow card in the span of five minutes.
The Foals were unable to capitalize in the final minutes of the half, however, with Dortmund still having the one-goal advantage headed into the locker room.
Even with their man advantage, Gladbach still went down by a second goal ten minutes into the second half when Jakub Blaszczykowski found halftime substitute Nuri Sahin with a nifty pass to the center-left of the box, with the Turkish international easily firing to the far post to put the game nearly out of reach.
Bradley had a less than spectacular outing, picking up a yellow card in the 52nd minute and being sent to the sidelines by his coach seven minutes later.
Gladbach midfielder Johannes van den Bergh did provide the hosts with some nervous final moments when he brought his team back to within a single goal after 80 minutes with a volleyed shot from just inside the upper left corner of the box to the upper right corner, however Dortmund remained in control for the final ten minutes to guarantee heading into the break in sixth place and on a high note.
The loss leaves the Foals languishing in last place, although surprisingly only a pair of points from safety.
Hannover 96 1-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Steve Cherundolo found his way back into Hannover's lineup after missing last week due to injury, however he was unable to help his team hold on to an early lead as they tied Arminia Bielefeld at home on Saturday.
Looking for the full three points to put a safer distance between them and the relegation zone, the Reds seemed well on their way just past the half-hour mark with the help of Jiří tajner's well-polished head.
A corner from Arnold Bruggink found tajner two yards out from the near post, who gave the ball a bit more shine as he headed past Bielefeld keeper Dennis Eilhoff for the early lead.
The visitors came out with more fire to start the second half, and it finally paid off 14 minute in when Polish forward Artur Wichniarek made their one shot on goal of the game count, receiving the ball on the left edge of the six-yard box after a nice combination from Daniel Halfar to Rüdiger Kauf following a break, and easily stroking it home to the bottom left corner for the tie.
With the share of the points, Bielefeld lay perched just a single point above the relegation spots 14th place, with Hannover still a full three points ahead of them in 13th.
TuS Koblenz 0-1 FC Ingolstadt 04
In their last game before the break, Matt Taylor and David Yelldell were unable to help TuS Koblenz make any headway towards safety, as they went down early to FC Ingolstadt 04 and could never find a way to draw even.
Taylor nearly gave the home team an early lead in the 13th minute, taking a pass from Emmanuel Krontiris in the center of the box, but his 10-yard shot was saved by Ingolstadt keeper Michael Lutz.
Three minutes later, the visitors struck first, with the help of a little bit of luck. A slightly mis-hit ball from Ingolstadt midfielder Markus Karl still somehow found its way towards the upper left of Yelldell's goal, giving the keeper no chance.
Playing from behind, the home team temporarily did their best impression of English soccer, preferring to try to find the speedy Taylor with a series of long-balls. Despite causing several nervous moments on their end of the field, Ingolstadt was able to fend off the threat to hold the lead.
Koblenz surged of the locker room after the break in an attempt to prevent coming out of the game empty-handed, however the Bavarians held strong for only their second away win of the season.
Yelldell did his part to keep the scoreline close, saving six of Ingolstadt's seven shots at his goal, while Taylor made way for Njazi Kuqi's return from injury after three weeks out of the lineup.
Hansa Rostock 1-0 SV Wehen Wiesbaden
Making only his third start of the season - this time in left midfield - Heath Pearce was unable to help the Hansa Rostock attack be of much threat to SV Wehen Wiesbaden's goal, however an unfortunate own-goal by Dajan Simac was enough to halt Rostock's eight-game winless streak.
Rostock's long slide had seen them fall from the edge of a promotion spot to the edge of relgation, however the important win on Sunday guaranteed they could at least go into the break without the spectre of a bottom-three place hovering over their shoulders.
Despite having been displaced by loanee Bastian Oczipka in his preferred left back position, Pearce filled in at left midfielder, taking full advantage of his prowess going forward on tha side of the field.
Rostock's captain Martin Retov helped to provide his team with the only goal of the game in the 26th minute when he hit a hard shot towards goal following a corner. The unlucky defender Simac was however in the way, and inadvertently deflected the ball into his own goal to give the home team the 1-0 lead.
Despite managing nearly three times as shots throughout the game, the visitors were ultimatley unable to find the net, and remained entrenched in the relegation zone themselves wtih the loss.
Playing out of position, Pearce was unable to provide much direct threat to the visiting goal and was ultimately subbed out after 76 minutes for the more attack-minded Mario Fillinger, who had missed the previous three games due to an adductor injury.
1860 München 1-1 FC Nürnberg
Gregg Berhalter helped his teammates fight back from a one-goal deficit on Sunday, providing the free kick assist on the tying goal to send 1860 Munich into the pause in 11th place.
While neither team was able to grab control in the beginning phases, the visitors had the slight advantage, being able to break through towards goal on occasion.
They grabbed the lead after 38 minutes on a solo action from Ghanian forward Isaac Boakye, who rounded Sven Bender and Mate Ghvinianidze before leaving Torben Hoffmann in his wake and hitting his shot from the upper left edge of the area to the far post of Philipp Tschauner's goal to put the Lions down by one.
Berhalter and his teammates brought it even nearly as unexpectedly ten minutes following the break on a long free kick from near the middle of the field.
Following a Mike Frantz foul on Timo Gebhart, Berhalter hit the long set piece into the box, with halftime substitute Markus Thorandt heading to the bottom right corner.
The Lions held on for the remainder of the game to settle for a slightly disappointing yet still important point to go into the break in 11th place.
Bryan Arguez did not dress as Hertha Berlin destroyed strugglers Karlsruhe SC 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Grover Gibson entered the game in the 77th minute and drew a yellow card, but was unable to turn the tide for Ahlen as they dropped to ninth place with their 3-0 road loss to SpVgg Gruether Fürth.
Luis Robles will start between the posts for FC Kaiserslautern on Monday night as they face off against second-place SC Freiburg for a battle which will have major implications at the top of the standings heading into winter.