• Monday, 8 March 2010

    First loss signals the advent of the Neverkusen curse: Bundesliga reviews

    Freiburg 1-2 Hannover
    Eintracht 1-4 Schalke
    Hamburg 1-0 Hertha
    Bremen 2-2 Stuttgart
    Cologne 1-1 Bayern
    Wolfsburg 4-1 Bochum
    Dortmund 3-0 Monchengladbach
    Nurnberg 3-2 Leverkusen
    Hoffenheim 0-1 Mainz

    What a time for Lukas Podolski to find the net for just the second time this season. He's had an awful time of it since his €10m switch from Bayern back to Cologne. Half an hour into the game against his previous employers, he blazed in a tremendous free-kick to make a serious dent in Bayern's title ambitions. Even when Bastian Schweinsteiger equalised with a cross-shot on the hour, it looked like Leverkusen would seize the opportunity to open up a gap at the top. Instead, they froze like so many Leverkusen sides have done in the past. Could this be the start of the Neverkusen curse? The first half seemed destined to finish goalless, but Eric Choupo-Moting got two in the last couple of minutes of the first 45 and Mikael Tavares made it three ten minutes into the second half. The fightback began ten minutes later, Stefan Kiessling extending his lead at the top of the goal-scoring charts and Patrick Helmes got another seven minutes later, but Nurnberg held on. But the big winners of the weekend weren't Bayern, but Schalke who also move above Leverkusen after beating Eintracht 4-1. Joel Matip and Benedikt Howedes put them two up early on. Alex Meier pulled one back early in the second half, but late goals from Ivan Rakitic and Kevin Kuranyi wrapped up a thumping win and the Royal Blues are right in this three-way fight.

    Hertha lost again, Marcell Jansen with the only goal of the game as Hamburg maintained fourth place. Dortmund won big against Gladbach to maintain their European push with two from Mohamed Zidan who picked up where he left off against England in midweek while Bremen were held by Stuttgart. The Swabians led 2-0 at half-time, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Sami Khedira putting them in control, but they were pegged back by Hugo Almeida and a Torsten Frings penalty. Wolfsburg came from behind to win well at home to Bochum for whom Paul Freier put them ahead. They held the lead until the hour mark when Wolfsburg finally sprang to life, Edin Dzeko getting two as the champions won 4-1. Hoffenheim's recent revival same to an end, Aristide Bancé's goal snaring Mainz a rare away win.

    Hannover were grateful for a late own goal from Papiss Cissé to help them to victory over fellow strugglers Freiburg. Elson gave Hannover the lead just after the hour, but Yacine Abdessaki equalised seven minutes later. They were level for just two minutes, Cissé heading Arnold Bruggink's cross into his own net. Hannover jump above Freiburg, albeit on goal difference alone. It now looks to be one from four that will survive.

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