RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover made a harsh crash landing back to earth on their visit to Cologne while Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg extended their surprise run with a win in Wolfsburg.
FC Cologne 4 - 0 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover had a rough night on Friday, letting in four goals against an inspired Cologne team to end their impressive run in league play.
DaMarcus Beasley was not included in the team's 18-man squad for the game.
The glow of Hannover's win last weekend over FC Bayern quickly faded when Cologne midfielder Petit was on-target with a blazing free kick from 22 yards out to the lower right corner of Robert Zieler's goal.
Zieler was pulled in favor of previous number-one keeper Florian Fromlowitz, however the change was of little consequence as Cologne hit for three more in the second half.
Lukas Podolski doubled the lead at the hour mark when he was sprung into the left side of the area with a fine pass from Christian Clemens, and worked his way around Fromlowitz before rolling his tight-angled shot over the line.
The German international then turned provider for their third goal with 11 minutes left, hitting teammate Milivoje Novakovic with a short pass from the left side of the penalty area for an easy tap-in.
Novakovic then added his second on the night one minute before the final whistle, knocking in a cross from Adil Chihi from the right flank with his right shoulder, for the final 4-0 scoreline.
Hannover remain third place with the loss, although the gap above fourth-place Bayern has now closed to two points thanks to the Bavarians' 6-0 win over Hamburg. They next host Hoffenheim on Saturday.
VfL Wolfsburg 1 - 2 FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler went the distance for Nürnberg on Saturday, splitting time between the defense and midfield while picking up his second yellow card of the season as Nürnberg surged past Wolfsburg to put themselves on the edge of a Europa League place.
Stuck in the middle of an entirely unexpected relegation battle, Wolfsburg applied heavy pressure from the opening whistle and surged into the lead in the 22nd minute when a cross from Peter Pekarik was headed out of Raphael Schäfer's reach by Mario Mandzukic.
Nürnberg equalized just before halftime, as Philipp Wollscheid got his head on a long free kick delivery by Mehmet Ekici, giving the 22-year old defender his second goal in two games.
They escaped a potentially damaging situation just after the break when the referee curiously decided to ignore what looked like a clear elbow from Javier Pinola on forward Dieumerci Mbokani at the edge of the penalty area, which Wolfsburg players and coaches felt warranted a red card and free kick from a dangerous position.
Wolfsburg held the upper hand for much of the second half and looked set to grab the winning goal on several occasions, but it would be Nürnberg who left the stadium with smiles on their faces when Ekici delivered a corner in the final moments of injury time which Per Nilsson headed past keeper Diego Benaglio for the dramatic last-second winner.
Nürnberg remain in sixth place, now just one point behind Mainz, who occupy the league's final Europa League spot. They will try to add another game to their remarkable seven-game unbeaten run when they host Werder Bremen on Saturday.
FC Schalke 04 2 - 1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Ricardo Clark made a return to Eintracht Frankfurt's starting lineup, playing the first half on Saturday as Schalke won the comedy of defensive errors in the Veltins Arena.
Frankfurt keeper Ralf Fährmann was guilty of the first major gaffe in first-half injury time when he dropped the ball at his feet to take a long kick out of his own penalty area and failed to see Spanish striker Raul lurking directly behind him.
The striker made a move for the loose ball, forcing the keeper to trip him up to prevent a free run at goal, giving up a penalty in the process. Jose Jurado stepped up to the spot and nailed it to the upper left corner to give Schalke the lead heading into the break.
Not to be outdone by his counterpart at the opposite end of the field, Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer committed a rare howler with 20 minutes left to gift Frankfurt their first goal since mid-December.
Frankfurt's Georgios Tzavellas sent a long pass from his own side of the field, close to 80 yards out from Schalke's goal, down field towards the streaking Theofanis Gekas. A mix-up between Neuer and the two nearest defenders allowed the ball to bounce between the three and over the keeper's head, putting the game back on even terms in the most unlikely of events.
Neuer did fortunately atone for his mistake with six minutes remaining, launching a long ball down field, which flew over the Frankfurt defense and to the feet of Angelos Charisteas for a low shot which beat Fährmann for the winner.
Frankfurt continue their free-fall through the standings, and are now in 16th place, just two points ahead of the relegation playoff spot. They will try to turn things around on Saturday when they host St. Pauli in a crucial relegation six-pointer.
Karlsruher SC 3 - 1 MSV Duisburg
David Yelldell and Duisburg continued their slip from promotion contention, coming up empty on their trip to Karlsruhe on Friday evening.
Luis Robles was once again on the bench as Karlsruhe's backup keeper for the duration of the game.
Karlsruhe needed only 18 minutes to put a dent in Duisburg's gameplan, when Delron Buckley rounded defender Benjamin Kern on the run and sent a cross towards goal, which Andrei Cristea easily put away past Yelldell from short range for the opener.
Matters got worse for the Zebras shortly after when Branimir Bajic poorly timed his challenge on Timo Staffeldt on the right side of the six-yard box, conceding a spot kick to the hosts, which Alexander Iashvili put away to the left of Yelldell's reach.
Karlsruhe's Lukas Rupp tested Yelldell two minutes before the break, juggling the ball past two defenders and getting off a shot to the left side which the American lunged out to keep out of the nets.
Duisburg cut the lead to a single goal with 18 minutes left in the contest to give hope of rescuing a point after Goran Sukalo headed in a wonderful free-kick delivery from Benjamin Kern, but were unable to translate any of the pressure they applied afterward into an equalizing goal.
The hosts finally put the final nail in the coffin with four minutes on the clock, as Stefan Füller lunged forward to head in a corner from Marco Terrazzino, securing the final 3-1 win for Karlsruhe.
Duisburg remain seventh in the standings, with an ever-growing nine-point gap to the promotion playoff. They next host Düsseldorf on Friday evening.
Karlsruhe climb to 14th place, now two points clear of the drop zone. They next visit 1860 Munich on Friday.
FSV Frankfurt 1 - 2 FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle played the final 18 minutes for Ingolstadt on Friday night, as the team rode a pair of goals from Brazilian midfielder Caiuby to their third straight victory, pulling free of the relegation zone.
After a scoreless first half, on-loan midfielder Caiuby put Ingolstadt ahead just after the break when he put away a perfectly-placed cross from Stefan Leitl.
Frankfurt equalized just past the hour mark when Jürgen Gjasula connected from the spot following a handball call in the penalty area, but Caiuby assured the three points five minutes later, heading in another precision set-up from Leitl.
Details of the game are given in a Yanks Abroad press box report.
Rot Weiss Ahlen 3 - 1 FC Heidenheim
Matt Taylor add another goal to his impressive season's tally on Saturday from the spot as Ahlen downed Heidenheim for their second straight victory.
Taylor left the game after 82 minutes with the score knotted at one goal apiece, but the hosts still managed to pull out the win in the final moments of play.
After a relatively dull and scoreless first half, Ahlen received a gift from their opponents three minutes after the intermission when Heidenheim keeper Erol Sabanov tripped up Marcus Piossek as he dove for a through-ball in the area. Taylor stepped up to the spot for the third time in the season, and for the third straight time put the ball past the opposing keeper for his overall 13th goal of the season.
The visitors pulled even one minute before the hour mark when a Patrick Mayer shot was deflected by Ahlen keeper Phillip Kühn directly into the path of Andreas Spann, who blasted his point-blank shot into the netting.
Ahlen turned momentum their way once again, and went ahead for good with six minutes left in the game when a corner was poorly cleared by the Heidenheim defense, and fell to Erdal Celik for a low 20-yard shot just inside the right post.
The hosts added an insurance goal three minutes from full time, this time with Marcus Piossek working his way free of his marking defender at the top of the box and finding the target with a shot to the left which rolled over the line.
Ahlen climb to 12th place, and will try to extend their three-game unbeaten run on Saturday when they visit to Dresden.
Daniel Williams is still recovering from a knee problem and did not suit up for Freiburg in their 2-1 loss at Kaiserslautern on Saturday.
Bobby Wood was an unused substitute for 1860 Munich on Sunday in their impressive 3-0 win at last-place Bielefeld.
Alfredo Morales was not included in Hertha's squad for their Monday evening 2-0 win at Greuther Fürth.