Sunday, April 23, 2006 

Arminia Bielefeld 0-1 Wolfsburg

At long last! VfL Wolfsburg took a major step towards Bundesliga survival on Saturday afternoon, by beating Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 in the Schüco Arena in round 31 of the Bundesliga. The crucial solitary goal came on the stroke ofhalf time, as Miroslav Karhan scored from the penalty spot after Marian Hristov had been felled in the Bielefeld area moments before. On the bad news side, striker Mike Hanke picked up a nasty looking ankle injury which forced him out on 57 minutes.

Chop and change
The Bielefeld coach Thomas von Heesen made two changes to his side which lost 0-2 away to Bayern last time out. Masmanidis replaced Küntzel in midfield, while Wichniarek took the place of Djalovic up front. Wolves coach Klaus Augenthaler also made 2 changes to his side which bravely battled their way to a 1-1 home draw against Werder Bremen in round 30: Franz came in fort he suspended Quiroga and van der Leegte got the nod ahead of the slightly injured Sarpei.

Cautious start
While Bielefeld could afford to begin the game knowing that relegation was a long way away, it was plain to see that the visitors had their backs to the wall as their nervous start underlined. On 6 minutes the home side had a half chance as Boakye headed a Kobylik cross wide of the right hand post. Shortly afterwards the Wolves settled down and didn’t allow the home side to settle on the ball, which Arminia didn’t like at all. Both sides cancelled each other out in midfield during a first half which was almost void of goalmouth action.

Little goalmouth action
It took until the 36th minute before the 18,000 crowd (including 2,000 travelling Wolves fans) saw the second chance of the game. Menseguez (who had a superb game) crossed into the Bielefeld area where Marlet got a header in which was easily dealt with by the home keeper Hain. Three minutes before the break Bielefeld’s Masmanidis set up Kauf, who let fly from 22 metres out. Luckily for the Wolves, Simon Jentzsch dealt with the tricky bouncing shot by turning it around a post.

Karhan puts the Wolves ahead!
The next drama came during injury time of the first half in the Schüco Arena as Hristov advanced into the box with the ball at his feet. A clumsy sliding challenge by Gabriel took the lags from under him and the match referee Gräfe pointed to the spot after a little glance towards his assistant. Up stepped the Wolves midfielder Karhan to send Hain the wrong way with a well struck spot kick which gave the Wolves a slender half time lead.

Schnoor goes close
Bielefeld brought on the former Hertha winger Pinto, for the invisible former Hertha striker Wichniarek. The introduction of the little Portuguese dribbler did not have the desired effect, because the Wolves had the home side under control for long periods and their keeper had very little to do at first. On 53 minutes, Hain was called into action as he was forced to turn a tricky Schnoor free kick around an upright. On 57 minutes, the Wolves striker Mike Hanke was taken off with what appeared to be a nasty ankle injury.

Marlet unlucky
Wolfsburg stood solid at the back and rarely allowed the home side the chance to threaten. The visitors had chances to put the game beyond Arminia, but failed to take any of them. Gräfe disallowed what appeared to be a perfectly good goal for offside, as Marlet volleyed home on 72 minutes. It was a hairline decision to say the least. Barely three minutes later, Hain saved with his feet to deny Marlet.

Simon shows his class
It took until ten minutes from time for Bielefeld to wake up from their collective lethargy. The home side finally gathered a head of steam and began to threaten Jenztzschs’s goal. Boakye missed tow good opportunities as the Wolves defence failed to pick him up on 83 minutes and two minutes later Jentzsch saved all three points for his side by superbly clearing a Masmanidis shot for a corner.

Congratulations lads!
The Wolves stood firm and calmly played out the final few minutes left on the clock. The deserved victory was their fist away from home since October 2005. The three points move the Wolves up to 14th place in the Bundesliga table, three points above the relegation zone. Next weekend, fellow strugglers Mainz visit the VOLKSWAGEN ARENA in round 32, for what promises to be a classic six pointer not to be missed!

BIELEFELD: Hain; Korzynietz, Westermann, Gabriel, Schuler; Kauf, Kucera; D. Kobylik, Masmanidis; Boakye, Wichniarek

WLOFSBURG: Jentzsch; Alex, Franz, Schnoor, van der Heyden; van der Leegte; Karhan, Menseguez; Hristov; Hanke, Marlet

GOALS: 0-1, Karhan (45'pen)


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern 31 70
2. Hamburg 31 65
3. Bremen 31 61
4. Schalke 31 55
5. Leverkusen 31 47
14. Wolfsburg 31 33


Monday, April 10, 2006 

PSV Eindhoven clinch Dutch title

PSV Eindhoven have retained their Dutch league title following a 1-1 draw against FC Groningen. With two games remaining, they hold an unassailable ten-point lead over AZ Alkmaar, who lost 1-0 to AFC Ajax.

'Beautiful championship'
Coach Guus Hiddink, who leaves PSV at the end of the season, said: "This is a beautiful championship, especially because nobody, including ourselves, considered us candidates for the title. If I consider how my team has played this season, I have to pay my respects to them."

High-profile departures
PSV lost star players Mark van Bommel, Ji-Sung Park and Johann Vogel last summer, but shrugged off the departures to claim their fifth title in seven years, their 19th overall. Club captain Philip Cocu said: "It was sad that we could not finish in style with a win but we clinched the title and that's what is important. Weeks before the start of the season a few players left us but with hard work we pulled off a great achievement. It took a lot of energy especially because this not a team that can win matches when playing at 70 percent."

Double chance
Erik Nevland had given Groningen the lead after robbing Timmy Simons and beating Heurelho Gomes on the stroke of half-time, but Jefferson Farfán hit back two minutes after the break. AZ's result meant that even a defeat would have seen PSV crowned champions. PSV can repeat the double they won last season if they win the Dutch Cup final against Ajax on 7 May in Rotterdam.


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. PSV 32 80
2. AZ 32 70
3. Feyenoord 32 67
4. Utrecht 32 55
5. Ajax 32 54



Hamburg 2 - 0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

HSV beat Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday evening (09.04.06) in front of 57,000 in the AOL Arena. Rafael van der Vaart put HSV ahead from the penalty spot on 34 minutes, after Barbarez had been fouled by the Gladbach keeper Keller. Two minutes into injury time, late substitute Naohiro Takahara scored his first goal of the season to give his coach Thomas Doll all three points on his 40th birthday. The victory moved HSV past bitter rivals Werder Bremen into second place, four points behind Bayern.

Return of the cannibal
The superb HSV 2-0 away win at Schalke in round 28 came at a price. Dutch defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong picked up a fifth yellow card, which made him miss Sunday’s clash at home to Gladbach. The Dutch international was replaced by his compatriot Khalid Boulahrouz, who made his first team return after suspension. Thomas Doll picked Ailton as a third striker at the expense of Trochowski. The Gladbach coach Horst Köppel’s side beat Dortmund last time out. Köppel replaced the suspended former Schalke player Oude Kamphuis with his luckless Brazilian striker Kahe.

Benny Lauth fires early warning shot
HSV needed maximum points in order to overtake local rivals Werder Bremen and move to within four points of the table-toppers Bayern, who lost 0-3 away to Werder on Saturday. It took a while for the home side to find their rhythm, but HSV had the first real chance of the game on 9 minutes, as Ailton fed van der Vaart, who in turn crossed from the left to the far post where Benny Lauth met the ball with a superb volley, only to be thwarted by a superb reflex save by Keller, instinctively punching the ball to safety. HSV took control from that moment onwards.

Unlucky Ailton
HSV combined well, constantly putting the visitors onto the back foot, always looking for a gap in the Gladbach defence. On 15 minutes, van der Vaart found one and played a sweet through ball to the advancing Ailton, who rushed into the left side of the Gladbach area from where he unleashed an identical shot to the one he scored with against Schalke last time out. This time though, luck was not on the Brazilian’s side, because the striker saw his low shot bounce back into play from the bottom of a post. Keller gratefully grabbed the ball to avert the danger.

Defensive mix up
On 19 minutes the visitors finally broke the vice-like grip on them being held by HSV, as they broke forward and Nando Rafael was unable to capitalise on a mix up in defence between keeper Kirschstein and Reinhardt. Six minutes later, the former Hertha striker who joined Gladbach hours before the winter transfer window closed, stole in on the blind side of both Atouba and Reinhardt at the far post. Luckily for HSV Kirschstein saved well with his feet to deny the German under-21 player.

Van der Vaart opens the scoring
During the period where the visiting side began to match HSV in all departments, the home side took the lead by way of a van der Vaart penalty which the Dutch master coolly slotted home sending Keller the wrong way, after the Gladbach goalie had slightly touched Barbarez in the area as the Bosnian was closing in on goal (34.) HSV went into the half time break with a slender one goal lead.

Much-improved visitors
The second half began in a sluggish way with misplaced passes taking over. Hardly any chances were created by HSV during the first fifteen minutes after the break. That heartened Gladbach, who were looking for what would have been only their second victory away from home in 32 (!) matches. HSV allowed Gladbach to get a grip on the game and all of a sudden they looked to be the better side. Gladbach were at their most dangerous at set pieces, and neither Neuville (63.) or Kahe (64.).

Taka scores his first of the season!
The final 15 minutes were very scrappy, almost void of goalmouth action. Benny Lauth picked up a fifth yellow card which will force him to miss HSV’s round 30 trip to Duisburg next Saturday. The game dragged on and Doll replaced the luckless Ailton with Takahara. The Japanese striker got a few touches of the ball and mostly gave it away, which got the home crowd onto his case. Fellow second half substitute Trochowski (who replaced van der Vaart) saw a gap two minutes into injury time and superbly played the ball into the path of the Sushi-Bomber, who lobbed the ball over the advancing Keller and into the bottom right hand corner of the net for his first goal of the season. Needless to say it was game over and HSV moved back into second place, snapping at the heels of Bayern again!

HSV: Kirschstein - Mahdavikia, Reinhardt, Boulahrouz, Atouba - Demel, Jarolim - van der Vaart (70. Trochowski) - Ailton (81. Takahara), Barbarez, Lauth (90. Karl)

Borussia Mönchengladbach: Keller - Fukal, Strasser, Ze Antonio, Daems (70. Sonck) - Polanski (86. Thijs), Broich (62. El Fakiri), Jansen - Rafael, Neuville - Kahe

Goals: 1-0 van der Vaart (34.Pen), 2-0 Takahara (90.+2.)



Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern Munchen 29 66
2. Hamburg 29 62
3. Bremen 29 59
4. Schalke 29 53
5. Hertha 29 43

Sunday, April 02, 2006 

Woflsburg 1-1 Duisburg

A goal by the Frenchman Steve Marlet well into injury time at the end of the second half, gave the Wolves a rather fortunate goal at home to lowly Duisburg in round 28 of the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon. (1.4.06). A paltry crowd of just 16,000 in the VOLKSWAGEN Arena saw a game between two teams looking like relegation candidates. After a dull and goalless first half, the Wolves striker Diego Klimowicz was rightly sent off for elbowing an opponent. Peter van Houdt put Duisburg in front on 74 minutes, before Marlet grabbed an equaliser at the death.

Return of the strikers
Klaus Augenthaler made three changes to the Wolves side which grabbed a the superb 2-2 draw away to Schalke in round 27: Youngster Lamprecht replaced the suspended Sarpei, while the injured van der Leegte and Hoogendoorp made way for Auge’s first choice strike force of Klimowicz. Augenthaler’s Duisburg counterpart Jürgen Kohler replaced Meyer with Möhrle who returned to the Zebras first team after suspension. That was the only change to the Duisburg team which lost 1-3 defeat against Bayern last weekend.

Toothless Wolves
VFL Wolfsburg started the brighter of the two sides, and tried to put Duisburg under pressure from the off. Apart from a harmless free kick by Schnoor which flew over the crossbar after three minutes, and a mini-chance by Hristov 4 minutes later, nothing else resulted from the early pressure. It took Duisburg around 10 minutes to find their way into the game. Caligiuri was allowed to cross unchallenged into the Wolfsburg penalty box where Ahanfouf stood alone on the penalty spot. The young striker headed over as it looked easier to score on 14 minutes.

Hristov hits a post
That close call served as a wake up call for the home side, and they pressed forward in search of an opening goal against the side second bottom of the Bundesliga table. On 36 minutes, Lamprecht lobbed a ball into the Duisburg area, where Hristov out jumped their defence, but could only look on in horror as his superb header came back off a post. Mike Hanke reached the rebound, but Baelum managed to clear for a corner.

Wolves denied a penalty
The match referee Wagner was in the spotlight two minutes later as he denied the home side a penalty. Baelum appeared to foul Klimowicz in the area, but the whistle remained silent, much to the disgust of the home crowd. Duisburg upped the tempo just before the break, and the Wolves keeper Simon Jentzsch had to be on his toes to deny Caligiuri and Lavric moments before half time.

Klimowicz sent off!
The home side continued to pressurise the visitors, and Lamprecht had the first chance of the second half on 56 minutes as he found himself unmarked on the left edge of the Duisburg area. The youngster rushed his effort which flew wide of the target. Klaus Augenthaler was forced into a re-think on 62 minutes as Klimowicz and Baelum clashed on the edge of the Duisburg box. The Duisburg defender pulled the Argentinean’s shirt and Klimowicz elbowed him in the face. After consulting his assistant, Wagner decided on a free kick to Wolfsburg, a yellow card for Baelum and a red card for Klimowicz.

Jenzsch makes rare mistake
The Wolves were in a state of shock and fell behind on 74 minutes as substitute van Houdt broke down the right to the edge of the Wolfsburg penalty area from where he fired in what looked to be a tame shot, which bobbled in front of Jentzsch, before looping over him and into the net. The shot certainly didn’t look that difficult to stop and the Wolves keeper was left with egg on his face. That bitter blow seemed to break the will of the home side and the Wolves hung their heads. Duisburg however, was unable to take advantage and two gilt edged chances by Ahanfouf (81.) and Lavric (83.) went begging as the Wolves were there for the taking.

Marlet at the death!
Teams who don’t take their chances are often punished in football as Duisburg found out to their coast deep into injury time at the end of the game. Wolves substitute Steve Marlet back heeled a pass into the bottom left hand corner of the Duisburg net to beak the Zebra hearts and give the Wolves what was in reality an unlikely point in the end. It was his first goal in a Wolves jersey. Seconds later the referee blew for time.

Duisburg was five second away from what would have been their second away win of the season. The Wolves now have two points between themselves and the relegation zone. Duisburg is still 6 points from safety.

VfL WOLFSBURG: Jentzsch; Quiroga, Schnoor, van der Heyden; Menseguez, Karhan, Thiam, Lamprecht; Hristov; Hanke, Klimowicz

DUISBURG: G. Koch; Wolters, Biliskov, Baelum, Möhrle; Tararache, Willi, Bugera, Caligiuri, Lavric, Ahanfouf

GOALS: 0-1, van Houdt (74'); 1-1, Marlet (90')


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bayern Munchën 28 66
2. Werder Bremen 28 56
3. Hamburg 27 56
4. Schalke 27 52
5. Hertha 28 40
14. Wolfsburg 28 28



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