RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams and Timmy Chandler were all victorious for their respective clubs, while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 came up short against league leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund 3 - 1 Hannover 96
In a hotly-contested match that saw seven yellows and 27 shots, league-leaders Borussia Dortmund knocked off Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 thanks to two goals from striker Robert Lewandowski.
Hannover head coach Mirko Slomka reinserted Cherundolo, who played the full 90, in the starting lineup in a match that saw two teams on a great run of play lately square off, with Hannover unbeaten in their last nine and Dortmund in their last 16.
The match was wide-open from the beginning as Dortmund had the best of it early, creating chances in the 11th, 15th and 21st minutes.
Hannover, for their part, defended resolutely and jockeyed well for position in midfield, but, save a Cherundolo ball for Sergio Pinto that was cut-out at the last second by Lukasz Piszczek in the 18th minute, the guests for Lower Saxony could not break down Dortmund's backline.
Dortmund continued to look the more threatening team, and went ahead in the 27th minute on Lewandowski's 15th goal of the season. The Polish striker took a feed from fellow Pole Piszczek, before ripping off a shot from five yards out past keeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
Energized by the lead, the home team kept flexing its attacking might, and should have really made it two, but failed to convert on chances in the 37th and 45th minutes.
It was another exclusively Polish production that gave Dortmund a two-goal advantage in the 54th minute.
Piszczek crossed to Jakob Blaszczykowski, who controlled brilliantly with his chest, rounded Eggiman in the box and dinked the ball back to his polish teammate Lewandowski, whose redirected shot split Cherundolo and Pinto.
The goal moved Lewandowski into 3rd place on the Bundesliga goal scorers list with 16.
Down two and unable to get anything going offensively, Slomka made a double swap in the 59th minute, bringing on Konstantin Rausch and Didier Ya Konan for Jan Schlaudraf and Mohammed Abdelleoue.
Hardly 60 seconds elapsed before Ya Konan made Slomka look like a genius; the Ivorian pulled one back for the visitors with a top-draw strike from just outside the box dipping over and behind the outstretched arms of Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller.
The goal was also the first shot Hannover put on target.
After enduring some unnerving moments, Dortmund finally put the game to bed late, when Marcel Schmelzer chipped a freekick to Ivan Persic, who sprinted onto it in the box and ripped a one-time shot past Zieler in the second minute of stoppage time for the final 3-1 scoreline.
The loss keeps Hannover in seventh place, two points out of the automatic Europa League spot currently held by Werder Bremen. On Saturday, Cherundolo and Hannover play host to Augsburg.
VfL Wolfsburg 1 -2 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson helped head coach Markus Babbel get his first win as head coach, as Hoffenheim defeated VfL Wolfsburg on a late strike by substitute Sven Schipplock.
As they had done in each of the last two matches, Hoffenheim got an early goal.
Ryan Babbel played Boris Vucevic behind the defense with the inside of his right foot. Vucevic shot low and hard to the left of Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio. The keeper did well to stop Vucevic, but could only parry as far as Roberto Firmino, who had no trouble finding the back of an empty net after just 80 seconds had been played.
Hoffenheim should have scored again in the 18th minute, but Firmino towered a low cross from Johnson over the net from 3 yards out.
The guests kept piling the offense on Wolfsburg, but failed to find a second. Wolfsburg had no attacking rhythm whatsoever, and only got back into the game thanks to a penalty in the 70th minute.
Marcel Schäffer cut past Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck, who got tangled up with Schäffer's legs bringing him down in the box; Patrick Helmes converted confidently drawing Wolfsburg level.
Whereas in weeks past Hoffenheim were guilty of becoming complacent after taking the lead, the guests repeatedly threatened the Wolfsburg goal.
Hoffenheim nearly regained the lead three minutes later after conceding, but Benaglio did well to stymy Vucevic from close range.
Hoffenheim kept attacking, and was rewarded in the 84th minute, when Schipplock ran onto Firmino's through ball, before coolly slotting past Benaglio to the keeper's left for the game's 2-1 final score.
With the win, Hoffenheim now sit in ninth place, five points behind Hannover for a Europa League spot.
Williams picked up his 5th caution of the season and will miss next week's match against Cologne.
SV Werder Bremen 0 - 1 FC Nürnberg
Timothy Chandler got the start in midfield for FC Nürnberg, as the Franconians got a much-needed victory against SV Werder Bremen.
Since returning to the starting lineup three weeks ago, Chandler has been used in midfield by Dieter Hecking, where the young American put in another 90 minute shift.
Both teams began modestly, with neither wanting to risk too much. The game's first chance did not come until the 29th minute, when Chandler crossed from the right flank to Tomas Pekhart, who laid off with his chest for Jens Hegeler. It was a nice display of passing, but the German's one-timed left-footed effort went just wide.
Nuremberg looked the more dangerous of the two teams, and would have scored in the 38th minute if it were not for Tim Wiese's excellent reflex save on Pekharts close-range header.
In the second half, Bremen turned on the attacking gas and created a slew of excellent scoring chances with Claudio Pizzaro hitting the post in the 49th minute, and Marko Marin firing off the target uncontested from six yards out in the 62nd minute.
In the 65th minute the deadlock was finally broken, as the guests from Franconia took the lead against the run of play.
Hanno Balitsch struck a low, deep cross from the right flank to Esswein, who was completely unmarked in front of Wiese's goal. The German striker hit his shot behind Wiese and into goal for the 1-0 advantage.
After what seemed to be 25 minutes of an SV Bremen power play, the home team had a golden opportunity to equalize in the first minute of stoppage time, but Adam Hlousek cleared off the line.
The whistle blew shortly thereafter, and Nuremberg emerged victorious.
The victory leaves Nuremberg with 28 points and in tenth place. Next week, Chandler and FC Nürnberg play host to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
David Yelldell was named to the bench as a backup keeper for Leverkusen's 2-0 derby win over Cologne.
Alfredo Morales was a late sub in Berlin's 3-0 home defeat to FC Augsburg.
Jermaine Jones was unavailable to Schalke 04 as they fell to Bayern 2-0.
Matt Taylor was a late sub as Paderborn knocked off league leaders Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2.
Preston Zimmerman saw some late mop-up time in Darmstadt's 1-1 draw away.
Amaechi Igwe did not make the bench as Babelsberg fell to Unterhaching 2-1.