Werder Bremen roll to fourth straight win, Augsburg let 2-goal lead slip
Werder Bremen's transformation continued apace Sunday afternoon when they raced into an early two-goal lead, then defended stoutly to achieve a 2-1 triumph over visiting Bayer Leverkusen.
The victory, the fourth straight for Viktor Skripnik's side, lifted Bremen into eighth place. They had been winless and were deep in the relegation zone when Skripnik took over but have won seven of 11 matches since the Ukrainian took charge.
Leverkusen missed the chance to move up from their sixth position but remain seven points clear of seventh-placed TSG Hoffenheim.
Werder Bremen struck first when Davie Selke ran the inside right channel and was able to meet a Fin Bartels' cross from the left flank. Selke first-timed the finish in the 18th minute.
A fine reflex save by Bernd Leno kept a Theodor Gebre Selassie header out at the top right corner six minutes later, but the Leverkusen keeper could do nothing about a Zlatko Junuzovic free kick from the top left outside the box. The Austrian midfielder curled the 29th minute free perfectly, catching the near top corner to record his fourth free kick goal of the season.
Hakan Calhanoglu got one back for Bayer Leverkusen just before the interval, heading in from close range after Julian Brandt hit the right post with a drive from 18 yards. The rebound came to Wendell, whose cross beat keeper Raphael Wolf to provide the servce for Calhanoglu's header.
Bayer turned up the pressure in the second half and controlled much of the play but were unable to make Wolf really work hard. There was good midfield movement and opportunities created but the Bremen defense dealt well with runners into the box and kept Leverkusen to speculative shots.
Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt was sent to the stands by referee Peter Sippel in the 64th minute after disputing a decision with the fourth official.
FC Augsburg let a two-goal lead get away and missed an opportunity to go third in the table when Eintracht Frankfurt fought back to gain a 2-2 draw in the Sunday night match. Schalke 04 remained third on goal-difference although level on 34 points with Augsburg.
FCA needed only seven minutes to break on top, Ragnar Klavan finishing well after Halil Altintop found him in space, back to goal some eight yards out. Altintop had controlled a rebound after a cross into the box was blocked, looked up to see Klavan with enough room to control, turn and strike from a central position.
Altintop almost got a second in the 14th minute but could not beat keeper Kevin Trapp, who came quickly off his line to kick it away just as Altintop was stretching to get a final touch. Then Tobias Werner got in alone but Trapp charged out to meet him and managed to block the shot with his knee when Werner's touch eluded him at the last moment.
The second finally did arrive in the 37th minute when Raul Bobadilla reacted first at the far post to score his seventh goal of the season. Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg delivered a free kick from wide on the right which bounced through the box to Bobadilla, whose finish came from a narrow angle to Trapp's right hand post.
But that dominance turned out not to be enough as Eintracht got one back in first half stoppage time when keeper Alex Manninger could only parry an Alexander Meier header to a Makoto Hasebe's free kick from the right. The ball hit a defender standing at the post and rebounded directly to Stefan Aigner for a tap-in finish.
Given that lifeline, Eintracht were much more in things in the second half as Augsburg seemed to lose its attacking fluency. The visitors finally tied it with 20 minutes remaining when Meier, the top scorer in the Bundesliga, ran down a long through ball, held off Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker and slid the ball past Manninger to the right corner. It was Meier's 14th goal of the season.