RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steven Cherundolo and Hannover stayed on course for Europe while Andrew Wooten notched his first goal in the Bundesliga.
FC Nuremberg 1 - 1 Hamburger SV
Timothy Chandler and Nuremberg picked up a point against Hamburg on Saturday, which all but assures their top-flight status for next season.
Chandler got the nod at right fullback from the get-go, as head coach Dieter Hecking sent out the exact same starting eleven from last week's 2-0 victory over Kaiserslautern.
The game's first chance came in the 13th minute, and should have brought the opener with it, but Hamburg striker Heung Min Son missed the target from 5 yards out, pulling his shot wide of the mark.
The rest of the first 45 was characterized by grit and determination on both sides, but nothing in the way of clear-cut scoring chances.
After the restart, Nuremberg came out the more determined team and dictated the run of play, but was unable to turn their aesthetic dominance into anything tangible.
The opener then fell in the 59th minute, and completely against the run of play. Nuremberg failed to deal with Marcel Jansen's low-struck cross, which landed at the feet of Son, who, this time, had no trouble sinking his right-footed shot from 10 yards out.
Nuremberg, however, did not need long to respond.
Belgian midfielder Timmy Simons lofted in a cross that Hamburg center back Jeffrey Bruma completely misjudged letting it fall to Daniel Didavi. The on-loan striker from Stuttgart slapped his shot into the upper-right corner for his fifth goal in the last four games.
Both teams were content with the point and consequently refrained from risking too much in attack.
Up next for Chandler and Nuremberg is a Saturday road match versus Hoffenheim.
TSG Hoffenheim 0 - 1 Bayer Leverkusen
Fabian Johnson got the start for Hoffenheim as an Andre Schürrle strike and a missed penalty were the difference in a lackluster Bundesliga match.
Head coach Markus Babbel handed Johnson the start at left back, while Daniel Williams was relegated to the bench in favor of Tobias Weis.
At the half-hour mark, the ball was in the back of the net, as Hoffenheim's Weis beat Bernd Leno, but the goal was disallowed by referee Felix Brych for offsides.
Dutch striker Ryan Babbel nearly put Hoffenheim in the lead in the 54th minute, but his header from 8 yards out was just off target.
One time, and unceremoniously ousted, Germany captain Michael Ballack let off a whopper of a right-footed shot in the 68th minute forcing Hoffenheim keeper Tom Starke into an acrobatic save to keep it scoreless.
Starke, however, could do nothing but watch the ball fly past his outstretched arms in the 79th minute, as Schürrle collected the ball on the left wing, cut quickly to his right and blasted a hellacious shot into the upper 90.
Hoffenheim was gifted a chance at an equalizer after Vedran Corluka handled the ball in the box, but Sehad Salihovic was outwitted by Leno, who guessed correctly to save the penalty and keep all three points for Leverkusen.
Johnson and Hoffenheim take on Nuremberg on Saturday in their next Bundesliga tie.
Hertha Berlin 1 - 2 FC Kaiserslautern
Andrew Wooten got the start and bagged his first Bundesliga goal, but Kaiserslautern was still relegated despite picking up their first victory in 21 matches.
Wooten was one of three new faces in the Kaiserslautern starting 11 along with defender Rodnei and midfielder Ariel Borysiuk.
In the 27th minute, the guests from the Palatinate grabbed the lead as Wooten, Olcay Sahan and Oliver Kirsch used a series of combinations to unlock the defense. In the end it was Kirsch, who fired past Berlin keeper Thomas Kraft from 10 yards out for the lead.
After regaining possession in midfield, Pierre De Wit found Konstantinos Fortunis with a through ball. The latter then laid off for Wooten, who put the ball in the back of the net for his first career Bundesliga goal in the 37th minute.
Berlin pulled one back in the 60th minute as Niemeyer was unmarked on a corner and headed home with ease.
Whatever hope Berlin had of pulling off the comeback was put to bed after the goal scorer was booked for a second time and sent off in the 74th minute.
As Cologne picked up a point in their match against Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern was officially relegated despite picking up the victory.
On Saturday, Kaiserslautern hosts newly crowned, back-to-back champions Borussia Dortmund.
FC Augsburg 1 - 1 FC Schalke 04
For in-depth coverage of Jermaine Jones and Schalke, please see David Smith's Press Box Report.
Hannover 96 0 - 0 Freiburg
Steven Cherundolo captained Hannover as they picked up a point, but the two dropped points kept them from all but clinching a spot in the Europa League.
Cherundolo manned the right flank for head coach Mirko Slomka, and Cheundolo had some initial problems keeping Daniel Caligiuri in check, but the defense bent, but did not break and kept the guests off the scoreboard.
The best chance of the opening 45 came in the 15th minute, but Lars Stindl was unable to convert in a one-on-one chance versus keeper Oliver Baumann.
The second half failed to produce anything more than a couple of half chances and the game ended scoreless.
With the point, Hannover now has a three-point lead on Werder Bremen for the last spot in the Europa League. Hannover travel to Leverkusen on Saturday to take on Bayer.
Karlsruher SC 2 - 0 SC Paderborn
Matthew Taylor put in just under a half an hour's worth of work on Saturday as Paderborn fell to Karlsruhe, putting a serious dent in their promotion hopes.
Taylor started on the bench for head coach Roger Schmidt in favor of Sören Brandy.
Both teams struggled mightily to get their attack going, with just a handful of half-chances that were either snuffed out by the defense or left begging by strikers.
Karlsruhe, however, managed to find the opener just before the half-time whistle. Marco Terrazzino picked up the ball in midfield and took off down the heart of the field, before picking out Gaeton Krebs on the right. The Frenchman then expertly chipped Paderborn keeper Lukas Kruse from 13 yards out to open up the scoring in the 43rd minute.
A goal down in the 65th minute, head coach Schmidt brought on Taylor for Brandy to try and get something from the game.
It was all to no avail, however, and after Pascal Groß fired home a right-footed shot from 12 yards out, it was all academic in the Wildpark Stadion.
The loss means that Paderborn now sits in fifth place with 58 points. Up next for Taylor and Paderborn is a Saturday match vs. FSV Frankfurt.
Darmstadt 3 - 1 Babelsberg
Preston Zimmerman scored twice and Darmstadt beat Babelsberg in the German 3rd flight.
Zimmerman got the start and bagged a first-half double to secure their third-flight status for next season.
Zimmerman needed only seven minutes to get his name on the scorer's sheet as he tapped in Rudolph Hübner's cross to the far post unmolested.
Babelsberg was then reduced to ten men as Matthias Kühne tackled his man from behind and was shown a straight red in the 36th minute.
Zimmerman was then Johnny on the spot again in the 45th minute, this time knocking in an Andreas Gaebler free kick from point blank.
Hübner then added a third for the home team capping off an impressive solo effort by coolly slotting home in the 66th.
Babelsberg notched a goal in the 78th minute through Dominik Stroh-Engel, but it was far too little, too late.
Darmstadt travels to Bremen on Saturday.