RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
David Yelldell's return to the field was spoiled by Oberhausen to send Koblenz into last place while Steve Cherundolo saw late sub minutes for his first appearance since mid-January.
Borussia Dortmund 3 - 0 Borussia M÷nchengladbach
Michael Bradley was limited to just over an hour in midfield as a sub-par performance by the Foals doomed them to a big loss to area rivals Dortmund on Saturday.
A stylish sequence saw Kevin Gro▀kreutz receive a long pass from the halfway line to just outside of Gladbach's area, then quickly lay the ball off to charging teammate Mohamed Zidan. The Egyptian international worked his way deep into the left side of the area before crossing the ball back to Gro▀kreutz who had no trouble to slide in the perfect setup for the 13th minute lead.
Dortmund looked decidedly the better of the two teams and could have extended the advantage on several occasions, but were ultimately kept out for the remainder of the half by some nice work by keeper Logan Bailly.
He was helpless nine minutes after the break when Zidan evaded several defenders just outside the penalty area and launched his long shot well out of the reach of Bailly to the left side of Gladbach's goal.
Bradley, who had received his fourth yellow card of the season in the 50th minute, gave way for upcoming World Cup adversary Karim Matmour in the 63rd minute in an attempt by coach Michael Frontzeck to try to cut into the two-goal disadvantage.
The introduction of the Algerian attacker was of little benefit as Zidan added his second of the day seven minutes later, taking a short through ball from Lucas Barrios to the left of goal and angling his low shot out of Bailly's reach and just inside the far post for the final 3-0 scoreline.
Gladbach maintain their 12th place standing after the loss, still three points ahead of the pack chasing from below. They return home on Saturday to host currently-hot Wolfsburg.
SC Freiburg 1 - 2 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo made his much-awaited return to the field while Daniel Williams watched from the bench as Hannover ended their horrendous run with an important victory in Freiburg on Saturday.
With an awful string of nine straight losses coming into the game, The Reds needed nothing short of a win to stop their freefall towards automatic relegation, and rode a strong second-half performance to the vital three points.
The first hour saw neither team able to break through in the heavy snowfall, with wasted chances the seeming recurring theme.
Stuttgart loanee Elson notched up his first goal in the Hannover uniform in style, as Freiburg midfielder Felix Bastians mis-hit his attempt to clear the ball from in front of goal directly to the Brazilian, who sent gladly his thank-you note just inside the upper right corner of goal for the 63rd minute opener.
The hosts answered back seven minutes afterwards, as Yacine Abdessadki was the first to a lobbed ball into Hannover's area from Julian Schuster and made his resulting shot look like a piece of cake, bringing the game back even.
This lasted a mere three minutes as Senegalese forward Papiss Cisse sent a picture-perfect header into goal - unfortunately his own - off of a free kick from Arnold Bruggink.
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka put Cherundolo into the game in the 79th minute to shore up the defense as Freiburg pressed hare for the goal, with the Reds eventually holding on for the important victory.
The three points lifts them temporarily into the relegation playoff spot at 16th place, with a home date against Frankfurt on Saturday, a game which will potentially see Ricardo Clark's Bundesliga debut.
Daniel Williams did not get off the bench for Freiburg, who now drop down to 17th place. They will need a miracle to improve their position next weekend as they travel to face league leaders Bayern on Saturday evening.
Rot-Wei▀ Oberhausen 2 - 0 TuS Koblenz
David Yelldell made a return to Koblenz's goal on Friday afternoon after a lengthy time off for a knee injury, but a pair from Moritz Stoppelkamp sent the team tumbling down into the league's cellar.
Oberhausen opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, as a long ball forward from Heinrich Schmidtgal just in front of goal was poorly cleared by Tom Gei▀ler directly into the path of Mike Terranova.
While Terranova's attempt to lob a header over Yelldell was deflected by the towering keeper, the ball landed directly in front of Stoppelkamp who effortlessly tapped in from point-blank range.
The American keeper pulled off a series of eye-popping saves to keep the deficit to just a single goal, and Koblenz remained within shooting distance until some shambolic defending sealed the loss with five minutes remaining.
A long ball forward from Marcel Landers should have been easily cleared by Anel Dzaka, however the longtime Koblenz favorite bumbled his attempt leaving Stoppelkamp with only Yelldell to beat.
After forcing the keeper to dive prematurely for the ball, he easily angled his shot from the left side of goal into the net, securing the victory and his second straight two-goal game.
The loss drops Koblenz to the bottom of the division and looking set for automatic relegation. They face perhaps their most important test of the season on Friday afternoon when they head to 17th-place Ahlen for a vital six-pointer, with a loss all but assuring their fate.
Ricardo Clark watched from the bench on Saturday as Schalke climbed to second place with a huge 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Jermaine Jones is still recovering from a broken leg and did not participate for Schalke.
Jared Jeffrey spent the weekend on the field for Mainz's U23s and did not participate as the first team went on the road to down Hoffenheim by a 1-0 score.
Luis Robles watched from the bench and Matt Taylor was not in uniform as FSV Frankfurt held their grip on the 2. Bundesliga's relegation playoff spot with a gutsy 1-1 tie in Kaiserslautern.