RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Ricardo Clark got a rare start for Eintracht Frankfurt to help them shut down Borussia Dortmund while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover had a tough afternoon in their loss at Nürnberg.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 - 2 Hamburger SV
Michael Bradley got the start and played 78 minutes for Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday evening, as the team closed out the fall with their fifth straight loss, a defeat at home to Hamburg.
After a first half which saw both teams threaten to take the lead but unable to follow through, Hamburg jumped out to the lead in the opening moments following the halftime pause.
A stylish display of passing by Hamburg's attackers on the left side of Gladbach's goal allowed Jonathan Pitroipa to spring Elijero Elia free into the area away from the Foals' defenders, where he worked his way towards the penalty spot and buried his low shot to the center of goal.
Gladbach wasted no time in fighting back, with Bradley receiving the ball on the left side and launching a no-look cross towards goal from the touchline which Igor de Camargo headed in for the 48th minute equalizer to give the home crowed hope of seeing their team avoid yet another loss.
Their fate was sealed, however, with 18 minutes remaining as Piotr Trochowski floated in a tight-angled free kick from the left side, which bounced through the Gladbach defenders and into the net securing the final 2-1 win for Hamburg.
The Foals enter the winter break in the Bundesliga's last-place spot, seven points deep in the relegation zone. They will face Hoffenheim on Tuesday evening in the DFB Cup round of 16, then have a three-week break before their next league encounter in Nürnberg.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 - 0 Borussia Dortmund
Ricardo Clark finally got his first start of the season for Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, playing his familiar defensive midfield role as they put a stop to Borussia Dortmund's 16 game streak without a loss.
A spate of injuries to the usual Frankfurt starters forced Frankfurt head coach Michael Skibbe's hand in starting the American in central midfield, and a strong performance in helping the team to a remarkable win over the league's runaway first-half champions could see further time on the field for Clark in the new year.
Dortmund came into the game having suffered a minor letdown earlier in the week when they missed out on the Europa League knockout round thanks to a draw in Sevilla, but otherwise flying high in their domestic campaign which had seen them go without a loss since the opening day.
While Dortmund controlled possession and flow for much of the first half, Frankfurt still had their chances, including a short header from Clark that came close just after the half-hour mark and a long-range blast by the American five minutes later that flew wide left.
The visitors nearly grabbed the victory four minutes past the hour mark when a cross by Nuri Sahin glanced off the crossbar, but the day would ultimately belong to Frankfurt thanks to a well-executed counter with three minutes left.
Sebastian Jung passed the ball from the right into the area to Martin Fenin, who flicked it with a nifty back-heel right into the path the onrushing Theofanis Gekas, who one-timed it straight ahead for the shocking winner.
Frankfurt climb to seventh place with the three points, and will next visit 2. Bundesliga team Aachen in midweek cup action on Wednesday before entering their winter break. They will resume league action on January 16 when they host Steve Cherundolo and Hannover.
FC Nürnberg 3 - 1 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo had a difficult afternon on the field for Hannover, scoring an own-goal as they fell in Nürnberg to end their five-game winning streak.
Hannover winger DaMarcus Beasley did not suit up for the visitors.
Both teams kept it tight for the first half-hour until a give-and go between Ilkay Gündogan and Almog Cohen heading into the Hannover area left the former with a clear bead on goal. As Gündodogan tried to cut the ball back to his teammate on the edge of the six-yard box, Cherundolo's deflection redirected it towards his own net and past the outstretched Florian Fromlowitz for the 28th minute Nürnberg lead.
The hosts added another quickly, as Hannover was unable to clear a 31st minute corner from the box, leaving the ball at the foot of Andreas Wolf just to the left of goal to slam high into the net.
Hannover found a way back into the game in the final quarter hour thanks in large to a pair of identical mistakes by Nürnberg defenders. As Sergio Pinto took a free kick from 25 yards out, Philipp Wollscheid was judged by referee Guido Winkmann to have raised his forearm towards the ball as the defending wall jumped.
The subsequent free kick resulting from the infraction saw the Nürnberg wall moved inside their penalty area, where this time Javier Pinola commited nearly the identical error, albeit far more clear, on Schlaudraff's set piece.
Not wasting the gift from their gracious hosts, Pinto stepped up to the spot and had no problems to bury the penalty down the middle, bringing Hannover to within one goal.
Their hopes of heading into the winter break on a long unbeaten run were squashed six minutes later, however, when Gündogan beat Cherundolo on the left edge of the penalty area and got off a cross across the face of goal, which Julian Schieber rose to head in at the far post to seal the win for Nürnberg.
The Reds fall to fourth place with the loss, however they can still be pleased with what has been their best-ever first half in the top flight in team history. They have four weeks off for the winter before hitting the road in mid-January to take on Eintracht Frankfurt.
MSV Duisburg 0 - 1 VfL Bochum
David Yelldell put in his usual 90 minutes for Duisburg in goal on Friday evening, but was unable to help their sputtering attack as they were doomed to defeat at home to Bochum.
Stefan Maierhofer nearly put the Zebras ahead after 16 minutes when his blazing long-range shot was parried on the dive by Bochum keeper Andreas Luthe, however both teams kept it tight and scoreless throughout the first half.
The visitors netted what would be the eventual winner eight minutes into the second half with North Korean phenom Jong Tae-Se latching onto a fine through ball from Kevin Vogt and running clear of defenders with only Yelldell in his way.
Rather than risk testing the American's stopping skills, he slid the ball over to onrushing teammate Christoph Dabrowski who made no mistake to tape in the short-range shot.
The loss sees Duisburg drop into fifth place, however still well in the running for one of the league's coveted promotion spots to the top flight. They have a trip to reeling Cologne awaiting on Wednesday for the DFB Cup round of 16, and get back to league action on January 16 when they host Osnabrück.
TSV 1860 Munich 0 - 1 SC Paderborn 07
Kenny Cooper made his return to the field for 1860 Munich as a late substitute, however the team was unable to unlock a staunch Paderborn defense as they fell by a single goal in the Allianz Arena to SC Paderborn 07.
After having finally recovered from a pre-season broken ankle, Cooper was making his second straight appearance on the 1860 bench, giving the 1860 crowd high hopes to see the first appearance of the American in more than one year.
The outcome of the game was ultimately decided after 22 minutes, when a cross from Philipp Heithölter grazed the hand of Kai Bülow in the area, forcing the referee to award a penalty to Paderborn.
Making sure not to waste the golden opportunity, Edmond Kapllani stepped up to the spot and buried his shot past Gabor Kiraly for the only goal of the game.
Cooper finally made his long-awaited return to the field in the 71st minute as a substitute for Daniel Halfar and provided some trouble for the Paderborn defense, however the score ultimately held, awarding all three points to the visitors.
1860 fall to ninth place, and have four weeks to regroup before they resume league play in January when Bochum come to visit.
Jermaine Jones is no longer participating with Schalke's first-team activities and did not suit up on Saturday afternoon as a hat-trick by Spanish legend Raul pushed them to a 3-0 win over Cologne.
Daniel Williams is out with a torn meniscus and was not present for Freiburg's 2-2 draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Alfredo Morales did not take part in Hertha Berlin's 1-1 draw on Saturday at Augsburg, in a game which saw a remarkable four ejections.
Amaechi Igwe is still recovering from a knee injury and did not take part on Sunday for Ingolstadt's 2-1 loss at Osnabrück.
Luis Robles will get the start between the sticks for Karlsruher SC on Monday as they close out the first half of their season with a trip north to visit Union Berlin.
A spate of weather-induced cancellations in the 3. Liga meant that both Matt Taylor and Ahlen, as well as Fabian Hürzeler and FC Bayern II have a long break until league play resumes in late-January.