RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover were held to a scoreless deadlock in Hamburg while Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg continued their remarkable run with a win in Kaiserslautern.
Hamburger SV 0 - 0 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover put on a strong defensive performance to hold their hosts Hamburg to a scoreless draw, however lost a step in their race for the Champions League.
DaMarcus Beasley continued to be a non-factor in Hannover's plans as he was not selected for the gameday roster by head coach Mirko Slomka.
The Reds came into the northern derby against HSV with a narrow two-point lead over Bayern in the hunt for the Bundesliga's third Champions League spot, and knew they had a hard task ahead of them if they expected to assure their third-place standing for another week.
While they posed more of a threat than their hosts, they were continually thwarted in front of goal, with Hamburg keeper Frank Rost doing much of the work to keep them off the scoreboard.
They gave Hamburg an early scare when Cherundolo nailed a cross from the right side directly in front of goal but striker Didier Ya Konan wasted the chance, heading over the crossbar.
They were close again five minutes later when Mohammed Abdellaoue rounded Rost in the right side of the area and hit the ball towards the far post, however Dennis Diekmeier cut it off directly in front of Konstantin Rausch, who was storming in for what would have been an easy tap-in.
The Ivorian international was in perfect position just outside the 18-yard box just moments before the halftime pause, however he hesitated a brief moment before taking his shot, and subsequently had to maneuver through a pair of defenders before forcing his shot which Rost was able to grab with a diving save.
He remained a threat through the second half, running onto a through ball from Lars Stindl in the right side of the penalty area with 15 minutes left, sending his low shot just inches wide of the far post.
Hamburg held strong through the end, however, picking up a valuable point and sending their visitors home with the same.
The result sees Hannover passed in the standings by Bayern, who now hold the third-place spot destined for Champions League qualification. They continue their two-game road stretch on Thursday when they visit Freiburg.
FC Kaiserslautern 0 - 2 FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler once again went the distance at right back for Nürnberg, serving up a fine cross to assist on the winning goal on Saturday as the team surged past Kaiserslautern.
With Mainz having earned three points the night before against Borussia Mönchengladbach, the pressure was on Nürnberg to do the same on their trip to Kaiserslautern in order to keep pace in their fight for a place in next season's Europa League.
They took a huge step four minutes past the half-hour mark thanks to their newly-capped American international, with Chandler rushing up the right side towards the endline and looping a cross into the six-yard box which Christian Eigler headed low into goal.
A defensive failure midway through the second half nearly handed Kaiserslautern an equalizer, but fortunately for the visitors, keeper Raphael Schäfer made a clutch block to keep Erwin Hoffer's shot out.
With the clock winding down to the final seconds of injury time, as Robert Mak made a fool out of a pair of 'Lautern defenders before rocketing his shot past keeper Kevin Trapp for the final 2-0 scoreline.
The Friday-night win by Mainz meant that Nürnberg still remain two points back in their hope of reaching the Europa League. The two teams will face off on Sunday in a crucial winner-takes-all battle.
Energie Cottbus 3 - 1 MSV Duisburg
David Yelldell and Duisburg had another rough afternoon on the road, leaking a trio of second-half goals to Cottbus for their eighth straight trip away from home without a win.
The two teams kept it tight throughout the first half, however Cottbus was quick to put the game away just after the restart, perhaps with some thought of revenge on their minds after having been knocked out of the DFB Cup semifinal by Duisburg barely one month before.
Dennis Sørensen was sent through into the right side of the area by Velimir Jovanovic, then squared the ball to Nils Petersen who put away the easy shot from five yards out for the 47th minute lead.
They needed just three minutes to double it, with Petersen returning the favor by laying the ball off to the in-stride Sørensen, who charged straight through the defense and slid his shot to the left of Yelldell just inside the upright.
Petersen then grabbed his second of the afternoon with 20 minutes left, taking a pass across the face of goal from Daniel Adlung and hitting his shot from a nearly impossible angle back to the opposite side, leaving Yelldell no chance for a save.
Duisburg did grab a consolation goal with two minutes left in regulation when Sefa Yilmaz spotted an opening from 30 yards out on the right side, hitting his low shot past the keeper and over the line, but it did nothing to change the final result.
The loss all but mathematically eliminates Duisburg from contention for promotion, as they are now nine points back from the playoff with just four games left on the schedule.
They have a tough ordeal awaiting on Monday evening when first-place Hertha visit Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena.
SV Wehen Wiesbaden 3 - 0 Rot Weiss Ahlen
Matt Taylor played the full 90 minutes for Ahlen on Saturday as they collapsed on the road against SV Wehen Wiesbaden.
Ahlen stayed in the game for just over an hour, but fell apart in grand fashion by allowing a pair of goals by their hosts over two minutes that effectively put the game out of reach.
Wehen defender Quido Lanzaat's header from a corner by Daniel Brosinski was deflected by Ahlen keeper Phillip Kühn, however substitute attacker Addy-Waku Menga was in perfect position to put the rebound shot away in the 62nd minute.
Wehen added a second two minutes later, with Brosinski sending a cross from the right to the far side of the penalty area for Alf Mintzel to emphatically head in full stride out of the reach of Kühn.
They added one more for the home fans with 14 minutes in regulation, with Menga slipping behind the defense and having no problems to slide his shot uncontested to the right of Kühn for 3-0.
The loss leaves Ahlen in a tough position with five games left in the season, needing to make up a two-point deficit behind Wacker Burghausen to have any hope of escaping a drop to the Regionalliga. They have a short turnaround before hosting tenth-place Jahn Regensburg on Wednesday.
Edson Buddle was left on the bench by Ingolstadt coach Benno Möhlmann as a precaution after suffering a slight thigh injury in training, and was an unused substitute as the team extended their unbeaten run to a remarkable seven games in their resounding 3-0 win at home over Bochum. The victory takes them a full seven points clear of the relegation playoff spot with four games left to play.
Ricardo Clark sat as an unused substitute for Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday as their 1-0 loss at Hoffenheim left them just above the relegation zone.
Daniel Williams was an unused substitute for Freiburg on Sunday afternoon in their 3-0 loss on the road to league leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Bobby Wood did not travel with 1860 Munich to Frankfurt on Friday as they surrendered a first-half lead to end up losing 2-1 to FSV.
Alfredo Morales was not included in Hertha's squad for their Saturday-afternoon 4-0 win at home over Osnabrück, instead featuring in the midfield with their second team the evening before in 2-0 Regionalliga win over Oberneuland.
With Kristian Nicht still recovering from injury, Luis Robles might be called in again to play in goal for KSC on Monday evening when the team hosts Augsburg.