Matchday 30 continued to bring all the ups and downs we expect from the Bundesliga with record goal scoring exploits from old heads and up and coming stars. Those at the top of the table had a mixed bag this weekend, while those at the bottom were also battling for potentially vital points. So just who were the winners and losers from this weekend’s action?
Bayer Leverkusen may not have enjoyed their mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich, but the one bright light to emerge from the defeat was their youngster Florian Wirtz, who became the youngest ever Bundesliga goal scorer at 17 years and 34 days old.
The teenager, who made his debut recently against Werder Bremen, produced a great strike (albeit a consolation) to beat Manuel Neuer in the 89th minute. The previous youngest player to net a league goal was Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin, who was 17 years and two months when he scored in 2005.
“A big talent here in Germany, a really good player and he has great technique,” Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said after the match.
“He has the ability to move in the open spaces. He has a good first touch, a very good first touch and can score, as you can see. We are really happy to have the biggest talent at his age here in Leverkusen.”
The Polish striker’s bullet header in the 66th minute handed Bayern a 4-1 lead at the Bay Arena, but more importantly saw him break his own personal best for goals in a single season. He now has 44 goals across all competitions with 30 coming in the Bundesliga.
Remarkably, the 31-year-old has reached this massive haul in just 38 appearances. Unfortunately, Lewandowski also picked up a yellow card against Leverkusen and will be suspended for the next game against Mönchengladbach, although he will be able to add to his tally when Bayern face Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal in midweek.
Lucien Favre’s side produced a good display to beat an impressive Hertha Berlin side in the late game on Saturday thanks to Emre Can’s second half goal. With RB Leipzig being held by Paderborn and both Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen losing, the Schwarzgelben’s hold on second place has only strengthened.
It was Can’s second goal since arriving from Juventus and he spoke afterwards about its significance. “We managed not to concede a goal. Then up front I had a chance to score a goal. I’m glad it worked out. You have to be honest, because sometimes it’s not so easy without the fans – sometimes the excitement is missing.
“Nevertheless, we still had enough chances to score one goal or another. We defended well – as far as I can remember, Hertha did not have a good chance to score. Sometimes that’s the way it is you have to score one goal up front and then win the game like that.
“The Champions League is now very, very likely. But we still have to try to win the next games and get the most out of them.”
If you scroll down beyond Robert Lewandowski, Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho, the next leading goal scorer in the Bundesliga is Fortuna’s Rouwen Hennings after he added two more on matchday 30 to take his season’s tally to 14.
Düsseldorf need all the points they can get to keep 17th place Werder Bremen at bay and attempt to climb out of the bottom three. The goal scoring exploits of the 32-year-old have been one thing the Rhineland side have been able to rely upon this season and a few more this season will go a long way to helping them retain their topflight status.
The Foals had not won in Freiburg since 2002 and that sorry run continued with a 1-0 loss on Friday night. Nils Petersen’s header with his first touch of the game proved enough to secure all three points for Christian Streich’s side and inflict a blow on Gladbach’s Champions League ambitions.
To make matters worse Alassane Plea was sent off for two yellow cards with the first caution a wholly needless one for kicking the ball away in frustration. Manager Max Eberl was also sent-off by referee Markus Schmidt for his over-vehement protestations over Plea’s dismissal. All in all, a pretty dismal evening for Marco Rose’s side.
Paderborn’s ‘robust’ defender found himself with an unwanted record at the end of matchday 30. The 30-year-old collected his 16th yellow card of the season in his side’s 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig and drew level with Tomasz Hajto for the record number of cautions in one season.
Paderborn still have four games remaining this season, and with a ban now not an issue for the player, he will in all likelihood break the former Schalke player’s unwanted record with another booking.
The defender, who wears a protective helmet after breaking a cheekbone last year, has picked up his 16 cautions in 26 appearances, but hasn’t been sent off once.
When you don’t win a must-win game, you know you’ve had a bad day. Werder Bremen’s clash with Wolfsburg on Sunday saw both sides desperate for the three points, but after a torrential downpour in the second half at the Weser Stadion, it was the visitors who left the happiest after Wout Weghorst scored the only goal of the game.
Werder are now three points behind Fortuna Düsseldorf in 16th and six points behind Mainz in 15th meaning their survival in the Bundesliga is not totally in their own hands.
Another display lacking any bite upfront and with defensive frailties dissipated any optimism left and the Grün-Weißen faithful are going to have to pray for a miracle to avoid the fate that affected their Northern rivals Hamburger SV two years ago.
Benjamin Hübner (Kaan Ayhan)
Hoffenheim defender Benjamin Hübner had never been sent off for the club in four years but has suddenly found himself dismissed in two successive Bundesliga matches.
He can have few complaints about his double yellow against Köln on matchday 28, but he will be furious with the straight red card dished out to him by referee Sören Storks against Fortuna Düsseldorf. Replays shown that Fortuna’s Kaan Ayhan purposely pulled Hübner’s arm up into his face conning the referee into thinking he’d been the victim.
“I’m incredibly annoyed” the TSG defender said after the game. “My arm clearly only moves towards Ayhan’s body. You can see that in all the images, on television too. Very clearly. Then he uses his arm to move mine upwards and that leads to my hand striking his face. Not hard, not anything. My hand was only going towards his body to keep us apart.
“I believe that what Ayhan then turns it into is absolutely shameless. Something like that takes the fun out of football for me. If I’d hit him, which I’ve never done, then I’d say: ‘That was stupid, that was a mistake.’ I would admit it.
“But what he turns it into is a total disgrace. I then had to watch the game on my mobile phone from the changing rooms, because I wasn’t allowed into the interior. I then saw a hugely combative performance from the team. I’m immensely proud of what the team still managed to achieve after this injustice.”
Who was the real loser here- Benjamin Hübner or Kaan Ayhan?