• Monday, 20 April 2009

    Energie's money back guarantee and the continuing woes of Hoffenheim: Bundesliga reviews

    Schalke 4-0 Energie
    Karlsruhe 2-2 Hoffenheim
    Cologne 0-3 Stuttgart
    Eintracht 4-1 Monchengladbach
    Arminia 0-1 Bayern
    Bochum 0-2 Dortmund
    Wolfsburg 2-1 Leverkusen
    Hamburg 2-1 Hannover
    Hertha 2-1 Bremen

    A pitiful performance on Friday night from Energie saw the management of the club offer to refund fans that had trekked all the way across the country from the Polish border region to the Ruhr valley, nearer the Netherlands. Cottbus went down 4-0 to Schalke in a game they hardly had a kick in. That's three wins in a row for Schalke since dismissing Fred Rutten. Christian Pander opened the scoring early on with a terrific strike from range and other goals followed from Halil Altintop, Jermaine Jones and Kevin Kuranyi. Suddenly, Schalke are on the fringes of Europe.

    Wolfsburg continue to lead, beating Leverkusen without being anywhere near their best. An iffy penalty award allowed Grafite to get the opener and he won it with his 22nd of the season, latching onto a quality through-ball from Zvejzdan Misimovic, after Toni Kroos equalised from 20 yards out. Bayern remain second, somehow. They were terrible against Arminia - no great shakes themselves - and laboured to a 1-0 win courtesy of a headed Luca Toni goal. Hamburg are also still in there thanks to Mladen Petric whose two goals were enough to see off Hannover. His first came after 60 seconds, volleying home from the middle of the box. His second was more fortuitous, Paolo Guerrero's shot being parried right to him. Mikael Forssell's penalty after Guy Demel handled in the box pulled one back for Hannover, but Martin Jol's side closed it out in a very professional manner. Hertha got back to winning ways by beating Bremen, though they had to come from behind as Per Mertesacker prodded a Thorsten Frings corner home just before the break. With no Andriy Voronin - suspended - Hertha struggled to get going up front with Marko Pantelic back in the side after a long lay-off. Twenty from time, Josip Simunic pulled off an athletic header to square it up and Raffael won it late on, looping a shot over Tim Wiese.

    Mario Gomez hit a hat-trick for Stuttgart as they ran out comfortable winners over Cologne. His first was all his own work, the other two down to the unselfish work of his team-mates and his own ability to get up in support of breaks. Both times Stuttgart hit Cologne with quick counters and Gomez was in the right place to take a final pass and slot the ball into an empty net. That he gets into those positions so often is no coincidence. Dortmund remain on the heels of their neighbours in Gelsenkirchen after beating Bochum. Patrick Owomoyela headed in from a tight angle from a corner and Nelson Valdez scored a blinder to seal it.

    Down at the bottom, Gladbach's woes continue with a tubbing from Eintracht, previously unable to string more than a few passes together, let alone four goals in ninety minutes. Alex Meier headed in Markus Steinhofer's cross and Nikos Liberopoulos doubled the advantage shortly after the break before Gladbach were awarded their first penalty of the afternoon when Marko Marin was fouled. Unfortunately for them, Markus Proll saved well from Michael Bradley. Filip Daems showed him how to do it when Marin was again upended in the box, sending Proll the wrong way. But two late goals finished Gladbach off and they remain in trouble. Michael Fink teed up Marco Ross before Fink added a fourth himself with time running out.

    What to make of Hoffenheim. From the darlings of the league - ignore those bitter individuals who took against them for having the temerity to challenge the established order - to also rans. They don't look like qualifying for Europe now which, given the start they had, would be a major disappointment. The winter break disrupted them badly and they've not won since, the latest failure to take all three points against rock bottom Karlsruhe who twice came from behind. Sejad Salihovic scored the first and created the second for Selim Teber, those goals coming either side of Sebastien Freis's equaliser. Giovanni Federico levelled it once again just after the hour, profiting from a poor clearance by Andreas Beck. Federico almost won it, hitting the post in the last minute after Hoffenheim had gone down to ten men when Luis Gustavo picked up a second yellow.

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