• Monday, 23 August 2010

    Hoffenheim get serious: Bundesliga reviews

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

    The Bundesliga came back with a bang on Friday night with a humdinger at the Allianz where Bastian Schweinsteiger stole all three points with a late, late winner. Thomas Muller picked up where he left off in the World Cup with the opener inside ten minutes. He started and finished the move, exchanging chipped passes with Schweinsteiger before lashing the finish past Diego Benaglio. New Wolves skipper Edin Dzeko quickly got into his stride and tested Hans-Jorg Butt on a number of occasions, but it was only after Steve McClaren threw on Zvjezdan Misimovic at half time that the tide turned. Misimovic, a fiery character at the best of times, went public after the game with criticism of the decision to start him on the bench, but did a good deal of his talking on the pitch too, eventually sending over the corner that Dzeko rose highest to meet and headed into the top corner. No chance for Butt. Chances continued to flow at either end, but as the game headed into stoppage time, it looked set to end even. Bayern had other ideas and, a minute into second half stoppage time, Franck Ribéry sent over a swirling cross from the left which drew Benaglio out just far enough for Schweinsteiger to find the gap at his far post for a late winner, though both sides showed plenty to suggest they'll be the front runners throughout this season.

    Result of the weekend was Hoffenheim's demolition job on Bremen, themselves just days after thumping Sampdoria in the Champions League. There was no hint of the thumping to come when Torsten Frings, as he had in midweek, put Bremen ahead from the penalty spot after Luis Diaz had handled. He takes a mean penalty does Frings and, despite Tom Starke going the right way, it was just too good. By half time, though, Bremen would have shipped four goals. The first came on 20 minutes, the Villagers getting to the line and cutting back for Peniel Mlapa whose wayward shot broke to Demba Ba to blast in from close range. Ten minutes from the break, Mlapa made it two, breaking from deep and dummying his way past the keeper. Frings was robbed in midfield to set up the third, Vedad Ibisevic with the finish, and it was dead-ball king Sejad Salihovic with the fourth, a beautifully flighted free-kick up and over the wall. Ruud van Nistelrooy got both of Hamburg's goals as they began with a win over Schalke for whom Raul couldn't get into the game. Both were typical van Nistelrooy strikes, i.e. from a combined total of almost a yard. The first was off a deep cross and the Dutchman got between two defenders to prod it home a minute into the second half. On the hour, Schalke lost Benedikt Howedes to a second yellow card, but Jefferson Farfan got them level with ten minutes to go. Ivan Rakitic floated a free-kick into the box which the Peruvian somehow managed to flick over his own shoulder as he ran away from goal and divert it into the far corner. They were level for three minutes before Hamburg got Eljero Elia away down the left and his fizzing cross was turned in by compatriot van Nistelrooy to win it.

    Leverkusen got off to a winning start against Dortmund, two quick first-half goals deciding it. Euroballs favourite Tranquillo Barnetta swept the first in on 19 minutes and Renato Augusto exchanged passes with Eren Derdiyok before blazing it in from 20 yards. Stuttgart came a cropper in the early Sunday game, going down in Mainz who continue their good home form from last season. Cacau missed a penalty in the twentieth minute and Mainz made them pay, Sami Allagui with a fine angled finish as he seemed to be running away from goal. Somehow he wrapped his foot around it to open the scoring. The second came a couple of minutes after the restart, Morten Rasmussen with a looping header.

    St Pauli got their centenary season off to a flier, but they left it late against Freiburg. Indeed, Demba Cissé had Freiburg ahead with just twelve minutes to go, the defence being opened with alarming ease. Five minutes later, it was all square, the ball pinging around the box before dropping nicely for Fabian Boll to smash it in, Freiburg's defence proving equally as porous as St Pauli's. A misplaced shot fell kindly to Richard Sukuta-Pasu to give St Pauli the lead and it was wrapped up in stoppage time by Fin Bartels. The other promoted side, Kaiserslautern, also got off to a winning start, also 3-1 away from home. Despite having Youssef Mohamad sent off in just the second minute, Cologne went ahead when Milivoje Novakovic was the beneficiary of a goalkeeping shocker, Tobias Sippel dropping a routine free-kick right at the Slovenian's feet. He doesn't miss from there. A stunning shot on the turn from Srdjan Lakic brought it level with twenty to go and he put Lautern ahead in the 84th minute, a first time effort after Ivo Ilicevic was tripped. And Ilicevic made it three in the last minute with a lovely curling effort that left Faryd Mondragon rooted to the spot. Gladbach were held by Nurnberg who were ahead in quarter of an hour as Jens Hegeler nodded in a free header. On the half hour, Timmy Simons played in Mohamadou Idrissou and the big Cameroonian made no mistake from close in. Finally, Hannover managed a win over Eintracht. Konstantin Rausch put Hannover ahead in the 21st minute as Eintracht dithered rather than clear their lines, but Benjamin Kohler levelled it back up five minutes later, stealing ahead of his marker to divert the ball in at the near post. With quarter of an hour to go, Didier Ya Konan won it with another free header and, again, Eintracht could have cleared the danger much earlier. They've got defensive issues.

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