RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover took an emphatic step towards survival in the Bundesliga at the expense of Michael Bradley and Gladbach while Luis Robles saw his first action of the season for Kaiserslautern.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 - 2 1899 Hoffenheim
Ricardo Clark went the distance for the second straight game as Frankfurt fell at home thanks to a pair of late goals by Hoffenheim's Prince Tagoe.
With the season winding down and few remaining chances to display his talents in search of a contract extension with Frankfurt, Clark got his second start in a row in defensive midfield, his first in front of the home crowd of more than 50,000.
The hosts jumped out to a 20th-minute lead in spectacular fashion, after Halil Altintop did good work to keep possession on the right side before laying the ball off to Pirmin Schwegler, who found space with a cut-back before launching his 32-yard shot just inside the upper right corner of goal.
Hoffenheim were largely subdued by the Frankfurt defensive effort until the introduction of Ghanian international striker Tagoe in the 77th minute made all the difference.
A quick Hoffenheim counter-attack three minutes later left Maicosuel with ample space to work on the right side, with the Brazilian storming his way into the Frankfurt area before sending in a short pass directly to the foot of Tagoe, who made no mistake to draw the score even.
Tagoe then did all the hard work for the winner eight minutes later, running under a goal kick from keeper Daniel Haas, then out-wrestling Frankfurt captain Chris to maintain possession in the penalty area before lobbing his shot into the net for the final 2-1 victory.
Frankfurt remain ninth place with the loss. Clark will hope to get one last start before the summer when the team travels to outgoing champions Wolfsburg for their season finale on Saturday.
Hannover 96 6 - 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover made a huge statement about their intent for Bundesliga survival, hitting Michael Bradley and the the Foals for six goals on Saturday to pull free of the drop zone.
Losses to Bayern and Leverkusen by a combined 10-0 score in the previous two weeks had the Reds' backs against the walls, desperately needing a win to instill any hope of surviving for another season in the 1. Bundesliga.
Having come out firing on all cylinders, they got a huge boost 16 minutes after the opening whistle when Karim Haggui's no-look header from a free kick by Arnold Bruggink flew over Gladbach keeper Logan Bailly to put Hannover up 1-0, and were well on their way seven minutes later when Sergio Pinto blasted a 31-yard shot to the upper left corner for the two-goal advantage.
Their afternoon got even better three minutes before the half-hour mark as Didier Ya Konan headed in a Christian Schulz cross from the left for a third, and had the home crowd in full celebration mode when a deflected shot by Ya Konan was put away by Mike Hanke, giving the team a 4-0 lead with a full six minutes remaining in the first half.
They continued their momentum into the second half, with Cherundolo sending a dangerous pass into the penalty area to Manuel Schmiedebach, whose one-touch pass back to the the edge found Sofian Chahed waiting to slam home from 18 yards for a fifth goal.
Gladbach's Patrick Herrmann took advantage of an unfortunate deflection by Mario Eggimann to put away a consolation goal for the Foals in the 69th, but it was canceled out five minutes later as a pass by Cherundolo into the area was dealt with poorly by the Gladbach defense, leaving Bruggink free to pick up the ball and fire in from the right side to cap off his most clutch performance of the season.
The win takes Hannover out of the bottom three, now two points ahead of both Nürnberg and Bochum. They have one last hurdle to clear, a winner-takes-all contest in Bochum on Saturday.
A win will assure another season in the 1. Bundesliga, while a loss would send them either into the relegation playoff against the third-placed team in the 2. Bundesliga or even directly down, depending on the outcome of Nürnberg's game against Cologne. A draw will be enough to avoid a relegation playoff only should Nürnberg lose, as both teams currently hold identical goal differentials.
TuS Koblenz 2 - 2 FC Kaiserslautern
Luis Robles took the field in league play for the first time this season, as already-promoted Kaiserslautern was forced to fight back for a draw at Koblenz on Sunday.
With Kaiserslautern's advancement to the top flight next season secured, Robles was given his first start of the season by head coach Marco Kurz, with the possible aim of putting the American keeper on display for any potential summer suitors.
Koblenz keeper David Yelldell, also likely to leave the relegated squad for greener pastures, was left out of the team due to a season-ending ankle injury.
His backup Dieter Paucken was almost immediately thrown into the fire when Everson took down Markus Steinhöfer in the area with a mistimed tackle, allowing Srdjan Lakic to convert the spot kick to the lower right-hand corner giving Kaiserslautern the 16th-minute lead.
The hosts drew even three minutes past the half-hour, as Everson headed a corner from Andreas Glockner low past the American keeper, then took the lead just before the intermission when Rodnei pulled down Anel Dzaka in the area, with Matej Mavric converting the penalty with a cheeky spot kick straight down the middle.
The lead did not stand for long after the break, as Lakic netted his second of the afternoon in the 57th minute, powerfully heading in a long cross from Florian Dick.
Koblenz struggled to create any more chances to regain the lead in their last home game of the season, with the final whistle blowing to award each team one point.
The win leaves the Red Devils still two points atop the 2. Bundesliga heading into the final week. Robles will hope to put his skills on display as the team guns for the title in front of the home crowd against third-place Augsburg on Sunday.
The draw combined with similar results for both Rostock and FSV Frankfurt mathematically confirms Koblenz's relegation to the 3. Liga, already a practical certainty heading into the game, likely meaning that Yelldell has already played his last game for the team.
Jermaine Jones did not take part in Schalke's 2-0 home loss to Bremen on Saturday, a result which affirmed FC Bayern as Bundesliga champions for the 20th time.
Jared Jeffrey did not participate in Mainz's 2-2 draw in Stuttgart, instead suiting up for their second team on Thursday evening in a 4-1 win which helped pull them out of the Regionalliga West's relegation zone.
Daniel Williams did not suit up for SC Freiburg's 2-2 draw at Cologne, a result which assured the team another season in the top flight as they now sit four points above the relegation playoff spot with one game remaining on the schedule.
Matt Taylor did not suit up as FSV Frankfurt kept afloat just above the relegation line with a goalless draw at last-place Ahlen. The team looks headed towards safety, as they hold a one-point lead over Rostock who are occupying the relegation playoff spot, and host already-dropped Koblenz in their final game on Sunday, while Rostock have a tough away game in Düsseldorf.