RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo captained Hannover to a vital victory over title-hunting Schalke while Michael Bradley and Gladbach put a huge dent in Frankfurt's European hopes.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 - 0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Michael Bradley helped put the Foals on the board as they surged past Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday evening.
Frankfurt midfielder Ricardo Clark was an unused substitute and is still awaiting his debut for the team.
With their place in the top flight hardly a question for most of the new year and any chance for a European spot long out of the question, the Foals are left playing purely for pride, and proved it was sufficient motivation on Friday.
They wasted no time in jumping into the lead, as Bradley lobbed a pass into the area directly to the foot of Raul Bobadilla to the right of goal in the sixth minute. The Argentinean brought the ball under control and with Frankfurt keeper Oka Nikolov closing his angle, angled a chipped cross towards the far post which Marco Reus rose to head in for the lead.
A botched clearance by the American in the 40th minute left the ball at the feet of Halil Altintop with a clear line on goal, but he fortunately atoned for his mistake with a block off the line of the Turkish international's shot.
Frankfurt defender Chris drew a yellow in the 55th minute for an errant kick to Reus' groin, however the entire team felt the effect of his carelessness as the resulting free kick from Arrango was headed downwards and into goal by Brazilian defender Dante to bring the score to 2-0.
Apart from a point-blank missed volley by Altintop with 15 minutes remaining, Frankfurt never looked as though they could muster any sort of comeback, and the scoreline could have even been more favorable for the Foals were it not for wasted efforts by Bobadilla and Reus in the final ten minutes.
The win lifts the Foals past Hoffenheim into 11th place, almost assured of a mid-standings finish with four games left on the schedule. They next face a tough visit to Schalke on Saturday.
Frankfurt fall to ninth with the loss on 44 points, and will now need a stroke of luck if they hope to work their way into the final Europa League spot by season's end. Clark will hope that this will allow him to make his debut for the team on Sunday when they host last-place Hertha.
Hannover 96 4 - 2 FC Schalke 04
Steve Cherundolo was given a special pre-game tribute by the Hannover fans on Saturday, and repaid the honor by helping the team to a gutsy win over title hopefuls Schalke.
Jermaine Jones is still recovering from his broken leg and did not suit up for the visitors.
Hannnover were gifted the opener in the 17th minute when an attempted cross from Manuel Schmiedebach struck the knee of Schalke's German international Heiko Westermann and bounced into his own goal.
They were the recipients of another gift shortly after, this time from Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer, who was caught wandering on a Hannover counter-attack and was dealt the indignity of watching Didier Ya Konan's shot from the edge of the area go through his legs and into goal for 2-0 after just 29 minutes.
Schalke coach Felix Magath showed why he is considered one of the best in the business when he quickly adjusted within minutes, bringing on the added firepower of Brazilian striker Edu at the half-hour mark.
His gamble paid full dividends barely into the second half as the Brazilian beat his defenders on the right side of goal to bring Schalke to within one goal in the 46th minute, then drew even five minutes later as Ivan Rakitic converted a spot kick after Jefferson Farfan was brought down in the box by Reds defender Mario Eggimann.
The fireworks were far from complete, as the hosts capitalized on a breakaway, with Hanno Balitsch firing a wonderful blast to the upper left corner from the top of the area with ten minutes in regulation, then Ya Konan again making Neuer look like a fool caught in no-man's land with a long strike into added time for Hannover's fourth and final goal.
The improbable win pushes the Reds into the 16th-place relegation playoff spot, now trailing both Bochum and Nürnberg by one point. Their hopes to climb to safety will not get any easier as they must travel to first-place Bayern on Sunday.
Second-place Schalke now trail Bayern by two points, but will expect to take full points on Saturday when they host Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Alemannia Aachen 1 - 1 TuS Koblenz
David Yelldell did his part to push Koblenz to victory at Aachen on Friday, however a season-ending ankle injury to the keeper in the draw put their hopes for survival at risk.
The hosts had the more significant chances early-on and went ahead in the 35th minute, after a goal-mouth scramble left Benjamin Auer with a clear shot within the six-yard box which the striker put away for his 13th league goal of the season.
Yelldell landed poorly on his ankle in the 55th minute after challenging Auer for a long ball, and quickly left the field with what has been confirmed to be season-ending ligament damage.
Facing an ever-widening gap to even the relegation playoff, Koblenz were lucky to pull even four minutes later when Aachen keeper Thorsten Stuckmann was unable to reach a high header across goal from Matej Mavric, which Anel Dzaka rose to head into the net to secure the draw for the visitors.
The point leaves Koblenz in 17th place, now trailing FSV Frankfurt by four points for the relegation playoff spot. They will hope to pick up points at home against Karlsruhe on Friday.
Jared Jeffrey continued his play with Mainz's U23 team, netting a goal in Sunday's road win over Fortuna Düsseldorf II, and did not suit up for the first team's 1-0 home win over Dortmund the day before.
Daniel Williams was an unused substitute for Freiburg in their 4-0 blowout loss in Werder Bremen's Weser Stadium on Saturday.
Kaiserslautern backup keeper Luis Robles watched from the bench as the Red Devils moved one point closer to the 2. Bundesliga title during Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Union Berlin.
Matt Taylor did not suit up on Sunday for FSV Frankfurt's 1-0 home win over Rot-Weiß Oberhausen.