“It was the best goal of my career” said Hakan Çalhanoğlu after his 40 yard free kick made a fool of Borussia Dortmund’s goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller and sealed a 3-0 win that even a week ago would have seemed fanciful.
Çalhanoğlu is only 20 years old so he has many years to try to score a better goal. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that such a set of circumstances will ever present themselves to allow him to make such an audacious attempt.HSV were already 2-0 and the game was well into injury time. The Turkish international had been picked ahead of the injured Rafael van der Vaart and had been influential as the creative midfielder. His free kick was so far out that the BVB players elected not to form a wall. Even if they had would not have made a difference as Çalhanoğlus shot looped and swerved with precision towards the top left corner of the goal. Weidenfeller should have done better but given how unexpected the shot was, few could blame him for being caught on the hop.
The goal was the icing on the cake really. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored and provided an assist for Petr Jiráček who was a peripheral figure in the squad until new coach Mirko Slomka drafted the Czech international into the right wing for this game. He wasn’t the only player who had been brought in from the cold. Slobodan Rajković has barely featured this season but Slomka decided to shuffle his defensive pack and bring the Serb into the centre of defense at the expense of Heiko Westermann who was moved to right back. The result was a compact formation that managed to effectively deal with Dortmund who weren’t really paying attention and deserved everything they got.
In any event, Hamburg have renewed hope after that morale boosting win. You’d fancy them to pull themselves out of the bottom three by the season’s end.
As for Dortmund, they need to get their heads back together ahead of the Champions League trip to St Petersburg on Tuesday. In terms of the league, BVB will rue the opportunity to overhaul Bayer Leverkusen in second place after the Werkself followed on from their PSG nightmare, last Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to Wolfsburg. Bas Dost, Luiz Gustavo and the outstanding Swiss international Ricardo Rodriguez scored the goals with Sydney Sam offering the reply from Sami Hyppia’s team.
Leverkusen have only won two from the last seven league games but still hold onto second spot. Mind you this would have been different had Dortmund got their act together and if Schalke had been able to overcome Mainz on Friday. The two teams contrived a 0-0 draw. The point takes Mainz to 34 points and in the hunt for a Europa League spot along with Hertha who compounded Stuttgart’s woes by beating them 2-1 and Augsburg who had a right ding-dong with Freiburg and won 4-2.
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Champions League ambitions are being curtailed somewhat. They took a two goal lead against Hoffenheim in the first half only for Roberto Firmino and Sejad Salihović to level up and rescue a point in the second.
So the table is shaping up like this: Any from the top nine can qualify for Europe and any team from tenth downwards could be relegated. There is no mid table mediocrity in this league. In the bottom two automatic relegations spots are Freiburg and Eintracht Braunschweig who played their part in a fantastic game against ten men Nürnberg but left with nothing. 2-1 was the final score. Hamburg are in the relegation play off spot with Stuttgart very much in their sights.
Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt are one place and two places above Stuttgart after their 0-0 draw. Eintracht have an excuse for their inability to overcome a Werder team reduced to 10 men as they score two away goals at Porto in the Europa League tie last Thursday and have a great chance of defending that 2-2 result in the second leg this coming Thursday.
Finally, Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola made four changes in the game against Hannover 96 from the Arsenal game, including goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer which is always potentially dicey. It didn’t seem to make any difference though. Thomas Müller’s free header got proceedings underway and from then on Bayern dominated the match. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s produced a quality reverse pass for Thiago Alcântara to score the second on 34 minutes.
Hannover resisted early in the second half but Müller’s second on 57 minutes put paid to that. From then on it was Harlem Globetrotters only without the fancy tricks and step ladders. Mario Mandžukić headed in the fourth and that was that. At this rate, the Munich club will have the title won before the clocks change.
Results, scorers and tables are here (pdf).