DAVID SMITH - Monday, February 1, 2010
Michael Bradley and the Foals held on for a resounding win against reeling Werder while Daniel Williams and Freiburg were chopped down by Leverkusen.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 4 - 3 Werder Bremen
Michael Bradley went the distance as Borussia Mönchengladbach rode an early surge to an important win over Bremen on Saturday.
With only one win in their five previous league contests including last weekend's disappointing draw with bottom-feeders Hertha, the Foals were looking for a quick turnaround to right the ship before slipping too close to the drop zone.
With the crowd barely in their seats, they got their wish four minutes after the opening whistle as Tobias Levels sent Raul Bobadilla through on goal behind the defense, with the Argentinean sliding the ball back to Marco Reus to tap in from seven yards as Werder keeper Tim Wiese closed in to unsuccessfully halt the attack.
They put their guests two goals in the hole nine minutes later with Bobadilla holding the ball up on the right edge of the 18-yard box just long enough to allow Roberto Colautti to storm into position and knock in his short cross for their second of the afternoon.
They added an exclamation point to their early onslaught with a third goal in the 18th minute. Bobadilla was once again the instigator, doing most of the hard work himself in making central defender Per Mertesacker trip over his own lanky frame before wiggling around another pair of defenders to beat Wiese with his shot from the edge of the six-yard box.
Werder finally showed signs of life eight minutes later, with a slick display of passing in the attacking third ending with the ball at the feet of the deadly Mesut Özil, who beat Foals keeper Logain Bailly to the near post with his low shot.
The Foals clearly had no mind for allowing a rally, as they restored their three-goal lead in the 35th minute on a show of shockingly bad defending by their guests. Thorben Marx lobbed the ball over serveral Bremen defenders to Bobadilla, who then rounded the surprised Wiese who had been pulled outside of the penalty area, and angled his shot into goal for the 4-1 lead.
Once again, Bremen showed they can be counted on for a grand spectacle even in the midst of a bumbling defeat, cutting the lead to two goals five minutes before the half as Claudio Pizarro dove low to head in a ball from Aaron Hunt.
The game settled after the six-goal explosion of the first 45 minutes, with Weise preserving a glimmer of hope for the visitors thanks to several timely saves.
This proved handy as the clock wound down when Bailly clumsily flattened former teammate Marco Marin at the edge of the six-yard box, with Torsten Frings firing the resulting spot kick to bring Bremen to within one with five minutes still remaining in regulation.
This however proved to be the last real action of the game, as Gladbach ultimately held on for the win, subsequently sending Bremen to their fifth straight league loss.
The three points still leaves the Foals in 12th place, however they now find themselves level on points with Wolfsburg, Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, trailing all three by inferior goal differential.
They have the chance to jump several places in the standings - potentially as high as seventh - when they hit the road to visit struggling Mainz on Sunday.
Bayer Leverkusen 3 - 1 SC Freiburg
Daniel Williams went the full 90 minutes of Freiburg, but they were undone by a rapid-fire trio of Leverkusen goals to remain perched on the edge of the relegation zone.
Freiburg knew they faced a tough task to unseat still-undefeated Leverkusen, and kept themselves in position for an upset until collapsing in the final ten minutes of the first half.
A smooth team effort led to Leverkusen's opening goal in the 36th minute, with Tranquillo Barnetta providing the final cross from the right edge of the penalty area over for Stefan Kießling to head in for his 13th goal of the season - ending is own two-month drought.
They struck again one minute later as Kießling's strike partner Eren Derdiyok got into the act, intercepting an errant pass from Freiburg keeper Simon Pouplin and reaping the rewards with his 16-yard shot for the 2-0 lead.
The hosts weren't finished as long-time Liverpooler Sami Hyypiä headed in a corner from Bayern reject Toni Kroos in the 40th minute to effectively put the game in the books even before the halftime whistle.
Freiburg cut the lead to two goals midway through the second half as Felix Bastians beat several defenders to work his way into the left of the area and nail his shot to the near post, but that was all the team could muster as Stuttgart held for the final 3-1 win.
Freiburg remain on 18 points with the loss, one ahead of 16th-place Hannover who presently occupy the relegation playoff spot. They face their second top-three opponent in a row on Saturday when hosting Schalke.
Ricardo Clark was left off the bench on Saturday for Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-1 loss at home to Cologne.
Jared Jeffrey did not suit up for Mainz's 3-0 loss in the Allianz Arena to FC Bayern on Saturday afternoon.
Hannover's Steve Cherundolo sat out due to a yellow card suspension while also nursing a shoulder injury, missing Saturday's 3-1 loss at home to Nürnberg.
Jermaine Jones is still recovering from his leg injury and took no part on Saturday evening in Schalke's 2-0 win over Hoffeinhiem.
David Yelldell is out with a knee injury and watched from the stands as Koblenz beat Düsseldorf 1-0 at home on Friday.
Matt Taylor did not make the bench on Sunday afternoon as FSV Frankfurt gave themselves survival hope with a 2-0 road win over Paderborn.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench on Monday night when Kaiserslautern try to retake first place on their visit to Alemannia Aachen.