• Wednesday, 6 October 2010

    Mainz equal record, but Dortmund hang on: Bundesliga reviews

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

    Mainz remain top of the Bundesliga after beating Hoffenheim and also equal the record for consecutive wins at the start of a season. They're seven from seven now and stay three points clear of Dortmund in second, the pair of them already well clear of the pack. Lewis Holtby was in superb form once again and threaded a through ball for Adam Szalai to run onto in the second minute. He was onside, but Sami Allagui wasn't when the ball was played and the Hoffenheim defence stood still waiting for a flag. It didn't come and Szalai squared for his strike partner, back onside by this point, to sidefoot home. The Villagers were level late in the first half after Mainz uncharacteristically lost possession in centre field, Gustavo Dias going on a long run before playing Demba Ba in to level. With Jogi Low looking on, it wasn't long before Mainz were back in front, a looped ball forward for Szalai to run onto and finish. Ten minutes later, Holtby - he still qualifies for England, y'know - squared into the Hoffenheim box only for Dias to divert the ball in at the near post for 3-1. Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled one back with a stunning free-kick five minutes later, but any hope of a Hoffenheim comeback was thwarted when Josip Simunic pulled Holtby down in the box and, as last man, was sent off. Andre Schurrle put the penalty in the top corner and that was that. Dortmund stay behind after beating Bayern for whom Mario Gomez is morphing into the new Luca Toni. Three chances in the first half from a combined total of less than twelve yards were all spurned and Dortmund made them pay. Five minutes after the break, Lucas Barrios turned the ball in after a long throw caused panic in the Bayern rearguard. On the hour, Nuri Sahin curled in a wicked free-kick which gave Hans-Jorg Butt no chance and Bayern were defeated. They've been forced to forego the annual trip to the Oktoberfest in favour of extra training as a result. Ribéry and Robben can't come back quickly enough.

    Hannover stay third despite losing at home to St Pauli, just their second defeat of the season. The one goal came early, Marius Ebbers heading in at the end of a quick break in just the sixth minute. The newly promoted side were comfortable after that, moreso when Karim Haggui was sent off ten minutes from time. Third they may be, but already eight points behind the leaders. Leverkusen are up to fourth after a home draw with Bremen. A bright opening saw chances at either end, but Leverkusen took the lead through Patrick Helmes, a confident finish at the near post, after quarter of an hour. Marko Marin was proving a handful for the Leverkusen defence and he won a free-kick shortly after the break which he teed up for Hugo Almeida to blast through a crowd scene to level before Marin himself put Bremen ahead, finishing a move involving Wesley, Almeida and Aaron Hunt who provided the inch-perfect cross. An entertaining game finished with as a probably fair draw as Eren Derdiyok first ran powerfully through the defence and then showed some great footwork to get round the last couple of men before giving Tim Wiese no chance with the finish. Bremen remain marooned in 13th.

    Stuttgart stay bottom of the pile with just that one win - bizarrely or perhaps typically for the Bundesliga, a 7-0 victory - after defeat to improving Eintracht. Inevitably, Theofanis Gekas was on the scoresheet, the diminutive Greek hotshot sneaking in at the near post as the Stuttgart defence played musical statues to put the Frankfurters 1-0 up. Chris supplied the ball for that and he made it two with twenty minutes left, heading in from a corner. Stuttgart got one back through Pavel Pogrebnyak, mopping up after Eintracht keeper Ola Nikolov spilled a routine save, but that came after Stuttgart were reduced to ten, Mathieu Delpierre sent off. Schalke are still just a point above Stuttgart after yet another loss, this time away at Nurnberg. Felix Magath was defiant, placing the blame solely on his players. That may be fair enough, but he overhauled the squad himself in the summer, 15 players coming in and 21 leaving. This is his side, but no, it's not his fault. It can't be; he's brilliant. Manuel Neuer has hinted he may seek to leave with Magath responding that he's changed the squad to help him out, to offer him European football. It looks a long way off. After a goalless first half, the second started badly for the Royal Blues as Jermaine Jones picked up a second yellow for following in on the keeper and was duly sent off. The arguments threatened to boil over in the dug-outs, but Jones can have little complaint despite trying to pull out of it. He caught him, it warranted a booking and he'd already picked up a stupid one earlier in trademark fashion. Nine minutes later, Mike Frantz slid in to convert Julian Schieber's cross to put Nurnberg ahead. Jefferson Farfan set up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for the equaliser quarter of an hour from time, but Schalke had a big hand in their own downfall ten minutes later. A woeful backpass could only be directed behind by Neuer and, from the corner, Andreas Wolf powered a header into the roof of the net. Big problems in Gelsenkirchen.

    Wolfsburg's winning run came to an end, but they did get a point from their trip to Gladbach. Thomas Kahlenberg put the opener away for Die Wolfe as Gladbach complained about a foul in the build-up, probably accurately, but Thorben Marx levelled it midway through the second half with a diving header. Hamburg got back to winning ways against Lautern who were ahead after Ivo Ilicevic was upended after a great run to the edge of the Hamburg box down the left wing. Srdjan Lakic put the free-kick in the top corner, leaving Frank Rost rooted to the spot. Chances flowed and the frames of both goals were rattled before Hamburg finally took one of the many chances presented them, Gojko Kacar with a bullet header in the 70th minute from Ze Roberto's cross. The game continued in open fashion and both keepers made excellent saves to keep it 1-1, but six minutes from time, a Lautern attack broke down, Kacar launched it long for Jonathan Pitroipa who squared for Eric Choupo-Moting to nudge in a winner. Freiburg remain fifth after a good win over Cologne who even the ever-optimistic Lukas Podolski now admits are in a relegation fight. Jan Rosenthal had Freiburg two up in little more than ten minutes, the first coming off the back of a lovely turn on the edge of the box and a fine low finish, the second a brilliant 30-yard volley as Cologne failed to clear their lines. Just eleven minutes later, Cologne were back in it as Youssef Mohamad was quickest to react to a parried save. It was all square five minutes after half-time when Adam Matuschyk latched onto a loose ball and lashed it in from twenty yards. The winner came in the 70th minute when Papiss Demba Cissé beat the offside trap and lobbed the keeper when one-on-one.

    The table still has an odd look to it as we head to the international break, but Mainz and Dortmund are already threatening to make a break for the hills.

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