Despite facing a side winless in three competitive matches, Cologne were still clear outsiders, having gone without a win in their previous six league outings. But the Billy Goats surprisingly began on top, with Kingsley Schindler and Linton Maina calling Rafał Gikiewicz into action early on. And they made their dominance count in just the seventh minute, after a VAR review determined that Julian Chabot was onside, as he put the ball on a plate for Ellyes Skhiri to tap into an empty net.
The visitors built on their perfect start and doubled the advantage nine minutes later through Eric Martel, who slotted the ball past Gikiewicz after receiving a quick-thinking throw-in from Schindler. Already having flashbacks to a 4-1 drubbing in last season’s meeting here, the home faithful might have feared the worst. But Augsburg eventually rolled their sleeves up, and pulled a goal back in the 29th minute when Ruben Vargas found the net, after Maximilian Bauer cleverly flicked Arne Maier’s ambitious strike from the edge of the area into his path.
Although Augsburg dominated possession in the opening stages of the second half as they went in search of an equaliser, the away side managed to extend their lead on the hour mark. Substitute Dejan Ljubičić showed excellent vision, and drilled the ball across the area for Maina to fire in unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box to all but seal the result.
The hosts responded by making a handful of changes, but they failed to produce an effort on target to stage a comeback, as the Billy Goats left the WWK Arena with a crucial three points. Mathematical safety is now imminent for Cologne, and while Enrico Maaßen’s beaten side sat a healthy eight points clear of automatic relegation ahead of kick-off, this defeat is a massive wake-up call. Alarmingly, they’ve now gone four games without victory, ahead of a daunting trip to Champions League-chasing RB Leipzig next weekend.
A crunch clash in the race for the Bundesliga European places perhaps came at the wrong time for Frankfurt, who were winless in five games while they’d not managed a league clean sheet on the road in 16 matches. An in-form Leverkusen side wasted little time in ensuring that record would continue, as Amine Adli turned on the afterburners to accelerate away from Evan Ndicka and Kristijan Jakić before providing an exquisite outside-of-the-foot finish, putting Xabi Alonso’s men in the lead inside 10 minutes.
The visitors, as so many have before them, found it impossible to contain the speed of Die Werkself on the break. After surviving plenty of close calls, the Eagles would fall further behind before the break thanks to Moussa Diaby, who steered home from the inside right after being slotted in by Florian Wirtz. Oliver Glasner’s men were reeling, and had goalkeeper Kevin Trapp to thank for not being further behind at the interval, as the German international produced a fingertip save to deny Adli a second.
The hosts’ onslaught continued apace after the restart, but Trapp stood firm in the face of intense pressure to keep out efforts from Wirtz and Diaby at his near post. Defending a two-goal lead and relying on counters suited Leverkusen perfectly, as the beleaguered visitors toiled away unable to find a way through their rearguard. It wouldn’t be before the 75th minute that Frankfurt threatened, but they took their chance expertly to reduce the arrears. Daichi Kamada released Philipp Max down the left, and the wing-back squared to Djibril Sow, who placed his finish firmly into the corner to set up an unlikely grandstand finish at the BayArena.
Alonso’s men would not be breached a second time though, as an error from Jakić allowed Sardar Azmoun to round Trapp and score to secure his side a fifth successive Bundesliga win to leapfrog Frankfurt and move to within four points of the top-four, an achievement made all the more remarkable given they were in the drop zone when the Spaniard took over as manager. No such joys for Glasner, who saw his side fail to win a sixth consecutive league game as their bid to return to Europe continues to falter.
Borussia Dortmund returned to winning ways as they overcame fellow Bundesliga title hopefuls Union Berlin in a 2-1 victory at Signal Iduna Park, keeping their perfect home league record against Die Eisernen intact in the process.
Dortmund followed their disappointing 4-2 Klassiker capitulation with a cup exit at the hands of RB Leipzig in midweek, but the famous Gelbe Wand was appropriately in full voice to rouse their side as they kicked off against perhaps their greatest threat to Bundesliga glory this season, besides of course Bayern Munich. The opening stages were more notable for penalty shouts than shooting chances, but appeals from the returning Karim Adeyemi and Jude Bellingham were waved away, with the former instead seeing his name taken for simulation.
Although at kick-off these sides were separated by only two points in this season’s captivating Bundesliga title battle, Dortmund’s home advantage made them strong favourites, and they seized the advantage inside half an hour. Following some tricky play in the build-up, Donyell Malen ghosted unchecked into the Union box to get on the end of Raphaël Guerreiro’s whipped cross, which the Dutchman duly finished. Drawing confidence from gaining the lead, Dortmund remained in control, and generated yet more chances. Having just recorded his 10th league assist of the season, Guerreiro floated in another ball from the left side, but this time Frederik Rønnow was able to get across quickly to keep out Sébastien Haller’s header.
Die Schwarzgelben may have been rueing their missed chances in the first half as Union Berlin came out of the tunnel with heightened purpose and belief. The physical presence of Kevin Behrens had been the most promising aspect of Union’s attack before HT, and he was used to full effect as the capital side netted an unlikely equaliser. A long pass from the back was headed down by Behrens, who quickly spun around to receive the ball back from Sheraldo Becker and place into the bottom corner, with Gregor Kobel in no man’s land. To his disbelief, Behrens was immediately subbed off, but that didn’t stop Union creating chances, and they would almost certainly have taken the lead through Becker, if not for a last-ditch Guerreiro challenge.
Edin Terzić also looked to turn the game in his side’s favour with substitutes, and his replacements combined to restore Dortmund’s lead. Marco Reus’ progress upfield was halted by Paul Seguin, but the Union midfielder only played through Youssoufa Moukoko, who rounded the goalkeeper and sent the Signal Iduna Park into raptures. A late chance for Jamie Bynoe-Gittens almost extended the scoreline in Dortmund’s favour, but they still saw out the win, keeping pace with Bayern at the top of the table while potentially ending Union’s hopes of a maiden Bundesliga title.
Freiburg might not have beaten Bayern in Bundesliga action since 2015 but having downed the ten-time consecutive champions in DFB-Pokal action in midweek, belief was high in Christian Streich’s unchanged squad. However, with Borussia Dortmund still very much in the title race despite Bayern’s Der Klassiker victory last Saturday, the visitors came out of the traps aggressively and Mark Flekken was forced into a fine stop by Serge Gnabry’s header just minutes in.
Draped in glistening white, it looked for a while that Thomas Tuchel’s side’s attacking avalanches would see them take the lead. The interchangeability of Sadio Mané and Leroy Sané proved problematic for Freiburg early on, and the former sent a warning shot at the Freiburg backline when his wicked effort sailed past the post. But the hosts grew in confidence as the half progressed and after dealing with the remainder of Bayern’s pressure comfortably, Ritsu Dōan almost gave Freiburg the lead when his effort cannoned off the post.
Despite dominating possession, Bayern had ended the half in a disappointing fashion with a lack of invention seeing them struggle to open up a Freiburg defence on a 12-match unbeaten league home run. Fortunately for the Bavarians, no such subtlety was required as they found the opener early in the second half, when Matthijs de Ligt smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner from 25 yards.
That goal served to release pressure as the visitors went close to a second on numerous occasions in the closing stages, with Sané was guilty of spurning several opportunities before Gnabry again came close. A clear gameplan to frustrate their visitors had now been extinguished, leaving Freiburg caught between two minds, although Roland Sallai’s volley would have levelled scores if it wasn’t for an exceptional Yann Sommer stop.
The hosts were unable to maintain attacking momentum however, and that effort was as close as they came to taking a point from a Bayern side which ultimately stumbled over the line. And despite the victory seeing them remain at the top of the Bundesliga tree, there may be little doubt that Tuchel will seek improvements when they meet Premier League champions Manchester City in midweek.
Four late goals saw a defiant SV Werder Bremen twice come from behind to claim a point in an unbelievable 2-2 draw against 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga at the Mewa Arena. Despite a creditable draw, Die Werderaner have won just once in eight top-flight matches.
A full-blooded scrappy start to the game saw precious few chances until Silvan Widmer drilled in a dangerous ball across the face of Jiří Pavlenka’s goal. Werder immediately responded to that threat with a chance of their own as Niclas Füllkrug’s powerful hooked volley tested the reflexes of Robin Zentner. On the stroke of HT, the Bundesliga top scorer looked odds on to give his side the lead, yet Füllkrug failed to convert when one-on-one before the linesman’s flag went up. At the other end, Edimilson Fernandes almost unlocked the Werder defence with a beautifully-measured long ball, but the visitors successfully dealt with the threat to keep the scores level at the break.
Only Bayern Munich (19) were on a longer run of scoring games than Mainz (12) ahead of kick-off, so it was no surprise to see Bo Svensson’s side knocking on the door after the restart. Anton Stach thought he’d found the breakthrough when he followed in Ludovic Ajorque’s parried effort, only to be denied by an offside decision. A whirlwind end to the contest saw a scarcely-believable four goals scored after the 85th minute. Mainz took a deserved lead through Ajorque but were instantly pegged back when Jens Stage netted less than two minutes later at the other end. Teenager Nelson Weiper then scored what looked to be the winner in stoppage time, but Werder had other ideas as Füllkrug netted his 16th league goal of the campaign to send the away fans into raptures.
Despite ultimately conceding two late equalisers, Mainz extend their league-best undefeated run (W5, D3) to eight Bundesliga games, keeping them in the hunt for European qualification. As for Ole Werner’s side, a well-earned point sees them edge closer to the top half of the Bundesliga table.