Both defending champions Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 had to dig deep for Bundesliga wins on Saturday as they returned to domestic action still in the glow of their UEFA Champions League triumphs last week.
After Borussia shocked Real Madrid 2-1 in Dortmund on Wednesday, the same night Schalke enjoyed a 2-0 win at Arsenal, the pair both needed second-half goals to win their respective Bundesliga games.
With league leaders Bayern Munich due to host Bayer 04 Leverkusen yesterday at the Allianz Arena, Dortmund beat SC Freiburg 2-0 in a game played in heavy snow.
Centerback Neven Subotic got the breakthrough the defending champions needed with a 54th-minute header, before Germany midfielder Mario Goezte slotted home the second on 83 minutes to keep Dortmund fourth.
“It was an incredibly tough game,” Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said after snow covered the pitch and referee Marco Fritz opted to use an orange ball. “You could see in the first half just how hard it was to play on a pitch like that. In the second half, we played better than Freiburg did in the first, so this wasn’t an undeserved win, but in these conditions anything could have happened.”
Schalke also had to labor for their three points against Nuremberg as Peru international striker Jefferson Farfan hit the only goal of the game in the 77th minute to put Schalke second.
“We were motivated to win here and the coach had talked about the need for a good performance after London, but we are second behind Bayern now,” Schalke goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall said.
Eintracht Frankfurt would regain second spot if they won at VfB Stuttgart yesterday.
VfL Wolfsburg, who parted company with coach Felix Magath on Thursday, picked up only their second win of the season with a 4-1 victory at 10-man Fortuna Duesseldorf to lift themselves off the bottom and up into 16th in the table.
Ironically, two of the players who Magath had recruited over the summer, Dutch striker Bas Dost, who finished with a brace, and Croatia’s Ivica Olic both scored in the rout.
Brazil’s Diego netted a 78th-minute penalty after Duesseldorf had midfielder Oliver Fink shown a straight red card for fouling the Brazilian in the penalty area.
FSV Mainz 05 are up to fifth in the league after Hungary striker Adam Szalai scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Having opened his account in the 21st minute, he doubled his team’s tally with a second in the 46th and wrapped up his hat-trick with a 64th-minute header.
Also on Saturday, SpVgg Greuther Furth were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Werder Bremen.
Additional reporting by staff writer