DAVID SMITH - Sunday, February 14, 2010
Michael Bradley's slick passing helped Gladbach climb the standings with a win over Nürnberg while Daniel Williams and Freiburg were shocked by a last-minute defeat in Frankfurt.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 - 1 FC Nürnberg
Michael Bradley went the distance for the Foals on Friday, triggering their opening goal as they overcame relegation-troubled Nürnberg to take all three points in Borussia Park.
With last week's stale performance in Mainz fresh on their minds, the Foals were looking to bounce back against a relatively poor Nürnberg team which has done little to help their case for survival in the Bundesliga.
Bradley sparked his teammates to the opening goal in jaw-dropping fashion, hitting an inch-perfect pass from just inside his own half of the field which split two Nürnberg defenders and rolled directly into the path of the streaking Marco Reus.
The German youth international cut across to the left side of goal and worked his way around keeper Raphael Schäfer before squaring the ball into the path of teammate Roberto Colautti, who easily slotted his three-yard shot into the net for the 27th-minute lead.
The visitors equalized out of the blue two minutes after the intermission when a long free kick Marcel Risse was poorly dealt with by several defenders and fell directly at the feet of Albert Bunjaku, who slammed his shot down the middle leaving Gladbach keeper Logan Bailly no chance.
This bit of good fortune would be their last, however, as they were unable to mount consistent pressure on Gladbach's goal and fell victim to a questionable winner by the Foals in the 74th minute.
A long cross into Nürnberg's area from the right was poorly dealt with by Schäfer as he struggled with Karim Matmour for position, and fell at the feet of Canadian striker Rob Friend at the edge of the six-yard box, who tapped the ball in for the winner.
While referee Florian Meyer allowed the winning goal to stand without argument, the Nürnberg players had justifiable reason to argue as Matmour's reckless airborn attempt to head the ball looked to have also resulted in a clear foul on the opposing keeper.
The victory pushes the Foals ahead of Wolfsburg and Cologne into 11th place on 28 points, trailing Stuttgart and Hoffenheim merely by goal differential.
They will face their second straight game in the Friday night spotlight when they visit the Hoffe's Rhein Neckar Arena, with a possible push into the league's top half should they return home victorious.
Eintracht Frankfurt 2 - 1 SC Freiburg
Daniel Williams maintained his place in Freiburg's starting lineup for the fourth straight week, playing the full 90 minutes as their hearts were broken by Frankfurt in the final seconds.
Freiburg came into the game on the heels of last week's impressive defense performance against Schalke, but needing to find a way out of their offensive slump which had seen them only net a single goal over their last six games.
They were handed their chance on a silver platter by long-time Frankfurt keeper Oka Nikolov, rumored to be soon headed to MLS, who bumbled a cross from Cha Du-Ri and left it at the foot of Papiss Demba Cisse to tap in for the 25th minute lead.
Frankfurt evened the score five minutes before the break as Benjamin Köhler squeezed his free kick just inside the left post past the outstretched Simon Pouplin.
The game stayed lifeless for the remainder and looked headed to a rather stale draw until the hosts mustered victory seemingly out of thin air in the dying seconds.
Frankfurt central defender Maik Franz booted a long ball out of the backfield over the midway line, which was headed forward by Alexander Meier directly into the path of Halil Altintop.
The team's prized winter addition showed his worth to his new teammates, spotting an opening and lobbing his 14-yard shot over Pouplin's head for the dramatic winner.
With fellow relegation strugglers Hannover and Nürnberg both also falling over the weekend, Freiburg remain just above the surface in 15th place, two ahead of The Reds who currently occupy the risky relegation playoff spot.
They have a chance to solidify their position on Sunday when they host last-place deadbeats Hertha.
Frankfurt midfielder Ricardo Clark, who sat out the game as he recovers from a calf injury, will likely not be ready for the team's next game on Saturday against fourth-place Hamburg, but will hope to return soon enough to help the team try to improve on their seventh-place standing as they push for a spot in the Europa League.
Injured right back Steve Cherundolo's presence in Hannover's back line was sorely missed on Saturday afternoon as The Reds were thrashed by a 5-1 scoreline at home by high-flying Werder Bremen.
Jared Jeffery was not a part of the Mainz squad that could only manage a 1-1 draw with last-place Hertha on Saturday in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
Third-place Schalke stayed within three points of the league's top spot with their 2-0 home win over Cologne on Sunday, however Jermaine Jones played no part as he is still recovering from a broken leg.
Matt Taylor did not suit up for FSV Frankfurt on Friday evening as they held the 2. Bundesliga's top-scoring team St. Pauli to a goalless draw in Hamburg, to stay level with Koblenz on points in the fight for the relegation playoff spot.
David Yelldell watched from the bench as Koblenz fought for one point against visiting Hansa Rostock in a 1-1 draw, thereby staying barely ahead of FSV Frankfurt on goal differential in the 16th-place playoff spot.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench as FC Kaiserslautern look to overtake St. Pauli for the league's top spot when they pay a visit to MSV Duisburg on Monday evening.