RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Michael Bradley netted for Borussia Mönchengladbach in their blowout win over reeling Cologne while Hannover held on for the win in Mainz despite Steve Cherundolo's sending off.
VfL Wolfsburg 2 - 2 FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones played the first hour in Schalke's midfield as they rallied from two goals down to pick up a controversial point in Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Schalke had turned a corner in their win over St. Pauli the weekend before, and were tasked with avoiding a loss in Wolfsburg in hope of creating sustained momentum in the remaining time before the winter break.
They found themselves in an early hole, as Brazilian international Grafite got his head on a cross from Marcel Schäfer at close range to fire Wolfsburg into the lead.
The game looked to be headed in a sadly familiar direction when Edin Dzeko kept control of another cross from Schäfer right at the penalty spot, and jabbed his shot inside the lower left corner of Manuel Neuer's goal to give Schalke a two-goal deficit in the 33rd minute.
They did pull one back six minutes before halftime when Jefferson Farfan hit a low ball across the face of goal, which Edu poked over the line to cut Wolfsburg's lead to 2-1.
The second half saw the game turn on its head in the span of three minutes, in a turn of events which surely left Wolfsburg feel hard done by referee Wolfgang Stark.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled down a pass from Christoph Moritz and calmly put his shot past keeper Diego Benaglio to pull Schalke even, however as he had clearly controlled the ball with his forearm, the Wolfsburg defenders protested heavily, although to no avail.
A dubious penalty no-call on the opposite end of the field seconds later frustrated the home team further, leading finally to Ashkan Dejagah receiving a straight red in the 78th minute for a reckless tackle from behind on Jefferson Farfan.
Having been given the upper hand for the remaining ten-plus minutes, the visitors pushed in their attempt to net a winner, however they were unable to capitalize, and nearly saw the point slip from their hands in the final seconds when a backheeled shot from Wolfsburg defender Andrea Barzagli was barely blocked on the line.
Schalke remain in the 16th-place relegation playoff spot, just one point back from Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart. They can escape the bottom three all together on Saturday when they host struggling Bremen.
FC Cologne 0 - 4 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley was on-target for the Foals, striking their second goal on Saturday afternoon as they unloaded on hapless Cologne with a four-goal explosion.
After a scoreless first half, Gladbach took the lead in the 51st minute after Bradley was fouled by Pedro Geromel, allowing Raul Bobadilla to curl in a free kick from 22 yards out.
Bradley put his team up by two after 70 minutes when his 25-yard shot from straight ahead took a slight deflection off of Youssef Mohamad and past Cologne keeper Miro Varvodic.
The visitors made it three when Bradley and Marco Reus teamed up on a counter-attack, with the latter sending a dangerous cross to the edge of the six-yard box for Igor De Camargo to send in past Varvodic.
Bobadilla then completed the rout as he pulled down a headed pass from Mohamadou Idrissou in front of goal and blasted into goal in the 90th minute.
The win shoots the Foals ahead of last-place Cologne, with their ten-point total leaving them just one from safety. They will look to continue their momentum on Saturday when they host currently-cold Mainz.
FSV Mainz 0 - 1 Hannover 96
Hannover stopped their cold spell with a close win over struggling Mainz on Saturday evening, holding on in the final 20 minutes following Steve Cherundolo's dismissal.
DaMarcus Beasley was included on Hannover's bench, however was an unused substitute throughout the game.
Mainz has seen their fortunes take a major downturn after beginning the season with a record seven straight wins, and were looking to take advantage of Hannover's similar struggles on home soil to keep within reach of the league lead.
They their hopes were dashed on the stroke of halftime, as a long 30-yard shot from Sergio Pinto somehow ended up going over the line, thanks mostly to a poor goalkeeping effort from Christian Wetklo.
Hannover clearly had the upper hand in the game, however saw their road to the three points become a tough one over the span of ten minutes midway through the second half.
Cherundolo picked up a yellow card for a harsh foul on attacker Andre Schürrle in the 57th minute, then was given his marching orders 11 minutes later when he again got tangled with Schürrle, giving Mainz the man advantage for the last 23 minutes.
Fortunately for the Reds, Mainz's ineptitude in front of goal kept them from being able to equalize, giving Hannover the vital three points and dropping Mainz down to third place - their lowest position so far of the season.
Hannover move up into seventh with the win, in the middle of a pack which sees three points separating fourth from tenth. Cherundolo will miss Hannover's next game at home on Saturday against Hamburg as he serves his one-game suspension.
Karlsruher SC 1 - 1 Erzgebirge Aue
Luis Robles and the Karlsruher defense limited soaring Erzgebirge Aue to a single goal on Friday, as they gave some hope of a turnaround with a one-all draw.
Aue, who had just been promoted this season from the 3. Liga, continue to show their surprising strength when they took an early lead after just five minutes of play.
Karlsruhe midfielder Michael Mutzel was unable to clear the ball out of his own penalty area, with the ball falling to Marc Hensel just outside the 18-yard box to blast inside the lower right corner well out of Robles' reach.
The hosts did manage to dominate possession throughout the contest despite their inability to put their shots on frame, and salvaged a point midway through the second half.
A long ball into Aue's penalty area from the halfway line was headed down by Sebastian Langkamp to Alexander Iashvili, who slammed his shot to the upper right of goal, leaving Martin Männel no chance whatsoever.
Karlsruhe remain in the relegation playoff spot despite the point, however will look to climb to safety on Sunday when they visit Augsburg.
Alemannia Aachen 2 - 2 MSV Duisburg
David Yelldell and Duisburg were unable to hold onto their lead on Sunday afternoon and were forced to settle for a draw on their visit to Aachen.
After both teams failed to make any damage in the opening 45 minutes, Aachen grabbed the lead 20 minutes after the halftime intermission as Marco Höger got his head on a cross by Timo Achenbach to fire the hosts ahead.
The Zebras came roaring back shortly after, with Goran Sukalo first equalizing from the spot in the 67th minute after Thomas Stehle tripped up Olcay Sahan in the area.
While Duisburg's Gabriel Soares was shown a straight red one minute later due to a careless elbow on Höger, Srdjan Baljak put the Zebras ahead four minutes afterwards when he took the ball off of a Aachen defender in their own half of the field, and fought past several opposing players before chipping a 22-yard shot over the reach of David Hohs and into the net.
Aachen however effectively used their man-advantage on the field, piling the pressure on Duisburg and salvaging the point with four minutes left when Höger headed a short pass between two defenders to Benjamin Auer, who one-timed his powerful six-yard shot past Yelldell.
The draw sees Duisburg remain in third place, now two points behind current leaders Aue. They have an eight-day break until hosting fourth-place Cottbus on Monday.
Ricardo Clark was included on Eintracht Frankfurt's bench, however did not set foot on the field on Saturday for their scoreless draw at Werder Bremen.
Daniel Williams was an unused substitute for Freiburg on Sunday as they took all three points with a close 1-0 win at Hoffenheim.
Kenny Cooper is still recovering his full fitness and did not take part in 1860 Munich's scoreless draw at Energie Cottbus on Sunday.
Amaechi Igwe is still working his way back to health and did not participate in last-place Ingolstadt's 2-1 home loss to Paderborn on Sunday.
Rot Weiss Ahlen's Saturday afternoon game against visiting Stuttgart II was postponed due to a waterlogged field, putting a temporary pause to Matt Taylor's current three-game scoring streak.