RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Luis Robles and Karlsruher SC pulled free from the 2. Bundesliga's relegation zone with a road win over FSV Frankfurt while Matt Taylor returned to Ahlen's lineup to help snap their seven-game winless streak.
FC Nürnberg 3 - 0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Timothy Chandler got the start in defense for Nürnberg on Friday night, as the team continued their hot streak wit a big win at home over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Frankfurt midfielder Ricardo Clark is still recovering from a broken cheekbone and did not join with the traveling squad.
While Eintracht had struggled mightily since the winter break in managing only one point through six games without a single goal scored in their favor, a win was hardly a foregone conclusion for Nürnberg as it took them well over an hour to break through their visitors' defense, which was anchored by the spectacular play of keeper Oka Nikolov.
They finally went ahead in the 67th minute as Julian Schieber lined up for a 33-yard free kick, which flew under the wall, off the fingertips of Nikolov and into the back netting for the lead.
Frankfurt kept the game tight under intense pressure for nearly the remainder of the game, until the hosts blew the lid off in the final moments of regulation.
Late Nürnberg substitute Robert Mak took the ball off of defender Aleksandar Vasoski deep in Frankfurt territory, and looped a high shot over the reach of Nikolov which fell into goal for the 2-0 lead with three minutes left.
They added the icing on the cake three minutes later when Marek Mintal centered the ball to Almog Cohen at the top of the penalty area for a low 25-yarder which was just inside the right post.
Nürnberg hop Hoffenheim into eighth place with the three points, and have a chance to climb into the league's top five when they visit Schalke on Saturday.
Frankfurt remain in 12th place after the loss, and will host joint-last place Stuttgart on Sunday.
Hannover 96 3 - 0 FC Kaiserslautern
Steve Cherundolo put in his usual 90-minute shift at right back for Hannover on Saturday, helping them to maintain yet another shut-out as they blew past Kaiserslautern.
American midfielder DaMarcus Beasley was not included in Mirko Slomka's gameday roster.
The rise of Hannover from recent relegation struggler to a contender to gain entry into the Champions League has been one of the surprises of the season, however it is no mystery to the team or its followers that one of the most outwardly noticeable factors in their improved play is the inspirational performance by forward Didier Ya Konan.
The Ivorian international didn't need long to make his stamp on the game, storming into the box with the ball at his feet in the 17th minute before sliding a short pass to Jan Schaludraff on his right, who one-timed his shot past Tobias Sippel for the lead.
Ya Konan was again the trigger on the stroke of halfitme, splitting two defenders with a precision through-ball to Mohammed Abdellaoue on the left side of the area for a low shot to the far post out of Sippel's reach to give Hannover the 2-0 lead.
He stayed on the offensive following the break and saw his shot following a corner in the 57th minute blocked in the Kaiserslautern box, only to fall at the right foot of Schaludraff on the left side. The German forward took his chance well and powered his shot into the net, putting the game out of reach for the visitors and guaranteeing the three points for Hannover.
With all of the teams in the league's top four scoring wins over the weekend, Hannover stay in fourth place, one behind FC Bayern for the third Champions League spot. They face a tough visit to St. Pauli on Saturday and will be in prime position to jump up to third should Bayern fail to beat runaway league leaders Dortmund later in the evening.
FC Ingolstadt 04 0 - 2 SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt had another off-night, failing to score against visiting Greuther Fürth as they slumped to yet another loss.
Ingolstadt defender Amaechi Igwe is still working his way back to full fitness from a knee problem and did not suit up for the hosts.
Fürth took control of the "Small Bavarian Derby" early in the game, piling on the pressure throughout the early minutes and taking the lead after just 15 minutes. Sercan Sararer worked his way from near midfield into the left of the area with a fantastic run and eventually into a shooting position straight ahead, and beat Sascha Kirchstein with his shot inside the upper right corner.
The hosts prevented any further damage to stay within reach for the rest of the game, but finally conceded an insurance goal to their guests with seven minutes left. Sararer was again the main factor, running onto a long pass on the right and working his way around defender Tobias Fink before picking out the wide-open Leonhard Haas on the left side of the area for an easy shot into a practically-open net for 2-0.
Ingolstadt remain in one of the league's two automatic relegation spots, now with a five-point gap below the 16th-place playoff. They hit the road to visit Luis Robles and Karlsruher SC on Sunday.
MSV Duisburg 0 - 1 FC Union Berlin
David Yelldell and the Duisburg defense limited visiting Union Berlin to a single goal on Saturday afternoon, however their sputtering attack failed to put any past their opponents as they were forced to endure a painful defeat.
The Zebras started out strong, testing Union keeper Marcel Höttecke in the third minute when Julian Koch found forward Srdjan Baljak at the edge of the box, with the Duisburg forward forcing a fine diving save.
Union took the lead with the only goal of the game after 35 minutes on a tenacious display in front of goal, as Chinedu Ede beat the defense with a short header after both Santi Kolk and Dominic Peitz were denied at the goal-line.
The Zebras were clearly the more proactive of the two teams in the second half, coming frustratingly close to pulling even on numerous occasions, however were either thwarted by Höttecke or wide of the mark on each try.
The loss coinciding with wins by several of their competitors in the promotion chase sees them lose ground on the top three, with a five-point gap now separating them from third-place Bochum.
They will hope to rebound against relegation-threatened Oberhausen on Friday, then face their pivotal DFB Cup semifinal against Cottbus four days later.
FSV Frankfurt 1 - 2 Karlsruher SC
Luis Robles and Karlsruhe snapped their long winless streak on Sunday afternoon, beating their hosts FSV Frankfurt thanks to a late winner from Thorben Stadler to once again climb free of the drop zone.
Karlsruhe had yet to win away from their home stadium in eleven tries prior to the game, however desperately needed the three points in order to pull free of the dreaded drop zone.
Sensing the urgency of the moment, they stormed to a quick lead with Karlsruhe debutant Pascal Groß putting his team ahead in the 11th minute with a low blast from the top edge of the penalty area.
They conceded an equalizer nine minutes later after a long ball found its way into the Karlsruhe penalty area, and after several high headers confounded the defense Sascha Mölders sent a high looping shot over the reach of Robles.
The two teams looked headed for a draw as neither could fight their way through over the next hour, however a persistent Karlsruhe squad finally pulled out the much-needed victory in dramatic fashion in the final ten minutes.
Left back Thorben Stadler, who was also making his 2. Bundesliga debut, lined up over a 30-yard free kick, and sent it low, under the wall and through the fumbling hands of Frankfurt keeper Patric Klandt to give Karlsruhe all three points on the afternoon.
Karlsruhe are now safely situated 15th place, with a one-point lead over Oberhausen in the relegation playoff. They will go for two in a row on Sunday when they host Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt.
Rot Weiss Ahlen 1 - 2 Kickers Offenbach
Matt Taylor made his return to Ahlen's starting lineup after missing a pair of games due to injury, playing the first 84 minutes as they were able to steal all three points from their hosts Kickers Offenbach thanks to a late injury time winner.
Ahlen had gone seven games without tasting victory, and were seeing their once safe position in the division slowly fade as they quickly approached the drop zone.
While Offenbach had the majority of the chances in the early going, with Angolan international Jose Pierre Vunguidica being a major point of danger, Ahlen jumped ahead after 25 minutes.
Central defender Maximilian Dahlhoff dropped a beautiful long ball from near the midfield stripe to Sebastian Hille, who had streaked by a pair of flat-footed defenders, and the striker had no problems to beat Offenbach keeper Tobias Wolf with his shot from the right side of the area.
The hosts put a dent in Ahlen's plans for the win in the 54th minute when Vunguidica broke free from the defense on a surprise counter-attack, and powered his shot into goal to bring the teams on even footing.
Both pushed hard for the win with chances galore on both sides of the field, however Ahlen would ultimately go home on top thanks to luck finally going their way four minutes into injury time.
Late substitute Rouven Meschede won the ball from the Offenbach defense and dropped a short pass back to Kevin Wölk, who hit a looping 30-yard shot which Wolf should have had no problems to parry. The young keeper, however, took a cue from lofty English goalkeeping standards and allowed the ball to pass practically unimpeded into the net, giving Ahlen the gift of three points.
The victory brings Ahlen three points clear of the relegation zone, giving them somewhat less pressure on their shoulders on Saturday when they host league leaders Eintracht Braunschweig.
Daniel Williams is recovering from a knee injury and did not suit up for Freiburg in their 2-1 win at home over relegation-threatened Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Bobby Wood was an unused substitute for 1860 Munich on Friday evening as they fell in their local derby game to visiting FC Augsburg by a 2-0 score.
Hertha Berlin midfielder Alfredo Morales has returned to Hertha's second team and was not included on his team's bench for their 2-2 draw with visiting Energie Cottbus on Monday evening.