After two successive defeats Freiburg got back to winning ways at home to Wolfsburg with a potentially vital three points getting them back in the race for a top four finish. Second half substitutes Christian Günter and Nils Petersen were the heroes scoring the two goals immediately after coming on in the second half.
Petersen had another goal ruled out while Nicolas Höfler received a late red card. Wolfsburg have opened the door for Eintracht Frankfurt and Mainz to usurp them in the race for a European place next season. Freiburg are now level on points with Union putting added pressure on die Eisernen ahead of their game tomorrow. Here are five takeaways from tonight’s action.
1. The script was written for Nils Petersen
With Freiburg struggling to find a way through against an organised Wolfsburg side, Christian Streich sent on experienced duo Christian Günter and Nils Petersen with twenty minutes left. On his final home appearance for the club it was always going to be an emotional night for Petersen, but he put a memorable sheen on the evening with a typical striker’s goal.
Four minutes after Günter had fired the Breisgauer into the lead, Freiburg’s number 18 got himself on the end of an excellent cross from Roland Sallai to tap home. It was his 105th goal and quite remarkably extends his record as the highest scoring substitute with it being his 34th after coming off the bench.
A second header was controversially ruled out for a previous foul in the move, but the emotion on Christian Streich’s face said it all as Petersen bade farewell to the club in true Nils Petersen style.
2. All eyes on Europe
The match was all about European ambitions for both sides with a win a must in their respective ambitions. After losing their previous two, Freiburg needed three points to keep tabs on Union Berlin in the race for the top four and the 2-0 victory has done just that. Die Wölfe’s failure to win has given both Frankfurt and Mainz the chance to get back into contention for the Conference League spot that they currently occupy. Niko Kovac will be keeping close tabs on the results from tomorrows action to see what damage tonight may have done.
3. Flekken winning the race for the Golden Glove
Going into tonight’s match both Mark Flekken and Coen and Casteels had 12 clean sheets and were the leading contenders to win the Golden Glove- given to the Bundesliga keeper with the most shut-outs this season. Flekken, who is being strongly linked with a move to Premier League side Brentford, is now ahead in the race with one to play.
4. Streich gives youth a chance
Kenneth Schmidt and Noah Weißhaupt were both given starts by Christian Streich in this potentially vital fixture showing that the Freiburg coach has one eye on the evolution of the team while still having the other firmly fixed on the Champions League.
Both had impressive games. After a wobbly start 20-year-old Schmidt had a solid game as the left-sided defender in Freiburg’s back three (chosen ahead of veteran Günter), while Weißhaupt had a long-running battle with Kevin Wimmer on the left side of midfield which he largely had the better of.
5. Farewells all round at the Europa Park
It wasn’t just Nils Petersen bidding a fond farewell to SC Freiburg tonight with midfielder Jonathan Schmid also making his final appearance for the club. Christian Streich paid a glowing tribute to the attacker earlier in the week and with the game in the bag brought him on for his 299th Bundesliga appearance. The Frenchman has had two spells at the Black Forest club and will be fondly remembered.
It was also stadium announcer Claus Köhn’s final game before retirement. The 74-year started back in 1988 when the club were in the second tier and in his 35-year career has only missed two home games for the club. His familiar tones will be missed almost as much as Nils Petersen’s goals from the bench.