DAVID SMITH - Monday, April 5, 2010
Michael Bradley's return to the Foals' midfield was spoiled by a late Stuttgart goal while David Yelldell and Koblenz gave their hopes for avoiding relegation a huge boost.
VfB Stuttgart 2 - 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley went 87 minutes from the start for Gladbach after sitting out last week on card suspension, but a second-half let-down saw the team fail to pick up any points in Stuttgart.
Stuttgart had momentum on their side after a pair of straight wins heading into the game and looked the dominant team in the early going with the majority of possession and scoring chances falling their way.
Gladbach's opening goal against the run of play in the 33rd minute therefore came as a surprise for all. A careless Stuttgart turnover in the midfield triggered a counter-attack by the Foals, culminating with Thorben Marx springing Marco Reus into a one-on-one with Jens Lehmann which the 20 year-old had no problems to put away to the lower left of goal.
Stuttgart's Christian Träsch nearly brought matters even barely after the break with a screaming long-range volley from distance following a corner, but Gladbach keeper Logain Bailly was able to push it over the bar with a diving deflection.
The Belgian international was't so fortunate in the 66th minute, when a free long kick from the left flank by Zdravko Kuzmanovic found Ciprian Marica waiting just to the left of goal. The Romanian was able to work his way around Tobias Levels and fire a tight angled shot towards goal which took a slight deflection off of Roel Brouwers on its way into Bailly's net.
The game looked headed for a tie until a poor clearance by Filip Daems on a long pass into Gladbach's area fell at the edge of the 18-yard box, directly at the foot of Kuzmanovic who put his volleyed shot into the net for the winner.
The Foals maintain their 12th-place standing and will host a hot Frankfurt team on Friday who are coming off their third straight win.
Hamburger SV 0 - 0 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo wore the captain's armband for Hannover as they put in a strong defensive performance on Sunday to take a point on the road against Hamburg.
The Reds are fighting tooth and nail for their survival with each in the nearly-completed season presenting an opportunity to claw closer to a potential playoff or fall deeper into the hole.
While taking the full three points on Sunday's trip to Hamburg's Nordbank Arena was a small likelihood, a gutsy defensive performance, the last 30 minutes of which was played at a man-disadvantage, allowed the team to keep a glimmer of hope.
The hosts had several chances to take the lead in the first half, with the best coming in the 26th minute. A long-range shot from Dennis Aogo careened off the woodwork and straight towards Ruud van Nistelrooy, however the aging Dutch striker showed his years as his slow reaction to the golden opportunity saw him merely able to deflect the ball off his thigh and wide of the open net.
Hannover were forced to play the final 30 minutes with only ten men on the field when Jiri Stajner was given his marching orders for a second booking in a seven-minute period, but the disadvantage seemed to strengthen their resolve as they fought through for the eventual draw.
The lackluster performance by Hamburg, who have fallen from potential title-challengers to struggling for the final Europa League spot, was highlighted by the post-game actions of Jose Paolo Guerrero, who is likely facing a lengthy suspension after throwing a water bottle into the face of a heckling Hamburg fan on his way back into the locker room.
The draw still leaves The Reds one behind Freiburg in the competition for the relegation playoff spot, meaning they will need to put in another heroic defensive effort next Saturday when hosting second-place Schalke.
TuS Koblenz 2 - 1 SC Paderborn 07
David Yelldell went the distance in goal for Koblenz, notching three saves and limiting Paderborn to a single score as they pulled back within reaching distance of survival.
Koblenz, who were 4-1 losers in Duisburg one week before, felt a familiar sting when Paderborn already pulled ahead in the 22nd minute thanks to a beautiful looping 32-yard strike from Sven Krause which fell just inside the upper left corner of goal, impossibly out of Yelldell's reach.
Facing an embarrassing home loss, the hosts settled the game down and eventually equalized with 20 minutes left in regulation when a corner was allowed to rattle around in Paderborn's six-yard box, with Edmond Kapllani eventually poking it past the line for his third goal of the season.
With momentum in their favor, Koblenz midfielder Daniel Gunkel gave his team the win five minutes later, fooling Paderborn keeper Daniel Masuch on a free kick and dropping his 25-yard attempt just over the wall and into the lower right corner of goal.
The victory combined with FSV Frankfurt's loss means that Koblenz are now within just two points of the relegation playoff spot with five games left on the schedule.
They next face 12th-place Aachen in the New Tivoli stadium on Friday evening.
Jermaine Jones continues to sit out with a leg injury and did not participate as Schalke fell to second place thanks to their 2-1 loss at home to Bayern on Saturday.
Ricardo Clark was once again an unused substitute for Eintracht Frankfurt as they came from behind to beat ten-man Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 on Saturday.
Daniel Williams watched from the bench as SC Freiburg drew 1-1 at home with VfL Bochum on Saturday, thereby remaining in the relegation playoff spot.
Jared Jeffrey spent Saturday afternoon with Mainz's U23 team, and did not participate as the first team fell on the road to Nürnberg by a 2-1 scoreline.
Luis Robles watched from the bench as Kaiserslautern fell on the road to Rot-Weiß Oberhausen by a 2-1 score on Sunday.
Matt Taylor did not suit up for FSV Frankfurt on Saturday for their 2-1 loss in Bielefeld.