Friday, April 8, 2011

Frankfurt and Werder Battle To Draw

In a match which at some points bordered on war, Christoph Daum's Eintracht Frankfurt side battled to a 1-1 draw with fellow relegation candidates Werder Bremen.

From the off, this match was a fiery affair, with both sets of players fully committed, a fact illustrated in no better manner than on four minutes, when Mike Franz almost took Denny Avdic's head off with a flying elbow.

The tone had been set early, but the first chance didn't arrive until the eighth minute, when Sandro Wagner, having latched on to a long ball from central midfield, burst through two defenders only to see his slotted finish crash against the inside of the post.

Clearly aware of that major let off, Frankfurt began to up the tempo, and ten minutest later they created a chance of their own, as a cross from the right was steered towards goal by Theofanis Gekas. Unfortunately for the Greek striker, goalkeeper Tim Wiese was able to save from point blank range, the first in a series of stops to deny Gekas a goal.

Throughout the match, Marko Marin proved a worry for the Frankfurt defense, and on twenty-five minutes he almost opened the deadlock, as his header into the ground from a Wagner cross was tipped over by goalkeeper Fahrmann. The look of utter dismay on Marin's face following that save payed testament to the quality of the stop from Fahrmann, his fingertips keeping out a tantalizingly close effort from Werder.

As the half drew on the quality of play slowly began to diminish, with passes being strewn hither and thither, and no real pattern of play developing. It came as a relief to many a viewer when the whistle blew for half time, both teams clearly needed a talking to from their respective managers.

Werder Bremen emerged from the dressing rooms the more fired up of the two sides, and they almost broke the deadlock on fifty-one minutes when a Wesley cross that was curling into the net was parried behind at the last.

But four minutes later, Bremen were set to go even closer. By now fully proven as the bane of the Frankfurt back line, Marko Marin showed superb trickery on the left wing, weaving his way through before cutting the ball back for the onrushing Claudio Pizzaro. As Pizzaro turned to shoot it looked for all the world as though Thomas Schaaf's side would take the lead, only for the Bundesliga's top foreign goalscorer to be denied by another fine Fahrmann save.

Undeterred, Werder pressed on, and on fifty-seven minutes their reward finally arrived. A whipped in free kick from Torsten Frings looked to be set for a routine clearance, only for Halil Altintop, under pressure from Sandro Wagner, to head past his own keeper. Cheekily, Wagner claimed the goal, running to the corner with his hand aloft, where he was greeted by a crowd of jubilant teammates.

Pinned into their own half for the first fifteen minutes of the second period, Frankfurt finally began to push forward and should have equalized within minutes of Werder's goal. A long ball from defense was chested down by Theofanis Gekas, only for the Greek to be superbly denied by another monstrous Wiese stop. Still in disbelief, Gekas was given a chance to redeem himself for that earlier miss just seconds later, but latching onto a flicked header, Gekas could only blast his volley straight at the seemingly unbeatable Wiese.

With the game slowly drawing to a close, Frankfurt began to push numbers forward, a risky business, but one which was in the end effective, as they found the equalizer just nine minutes from time. Jung curled in a cross from the right wing which was met by a superb diving header, courtesy of the unmarked Martin Fenin. Frankfurt were level, and with a few minutes still remaining, the crowd were baying for a winner.

As it so happened, Frankfurt were presented with one last opportunity, a long ball from the back (sound familiar?) was taken in stride by Theofanis Gekas, only for the Greek international to once again be denied by another outstanding Wiese save. This time, Gekas simply looked on in utter bemusement as play around him continued, though it's hard to imagine that he was even surprised by Wiese's umpteenth save of the match.

While neither side will be particularly happy about just a point, the result insures that both teams are a step closer to safety, with Bremen six points off the drop zone, and Frankfurt five away.

Based on the evidence of this match, there are probably three worse teams in the division, but certainly, a 1-1 draw will do nothing for the stress levels in either camp.

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