By Matias Bengolo @scpaderbornen
The second division is back after the 75-day wait due to the World Cup, and the front-runners started as they entered the break. Saturday’s action didn’t provide any shocks but reminded us of the dazzling promotion race to come.
|Tim Kleindiest opened the scoring for Heidenheim on 80 minutes against Hansa Rostock.||Photo: Northside, CC BY-SA 3.0|
1. FC Heidenheim 2-0 Hansa Rostock
As Hansa found out, it’s difficult to go to Heidenheim and get something. FCH boasts the best home record in the entire 2. Bundesliga, with 23 points gained in nine matches, and no defeats. However, Rostock weren’t bad. The game was finely poised until Tim Kleindienst opened the scoring with his tenth 2. Bundesliga goal of the season. Heidenheim are ridiculously good defensively, and Rostock couldn’t manage a shot on target on their travels to southern Germany. Florian Pick sealed all three points with a left-footed effort that beat Hansa captain Markus Kolke, and Heidenheim end the day in second place.
SV Darmstadt 98 2-0 SSV Jahn Regensburg
2022 was a great year for Darmstadt, and only promotion would’ve been the cherry on top of the fantastic year. Darmstadt starts 2023 with a victory which increases their lead at the top of the league to three points, maybe this is their year. Another formidable, unbeaten home team sealed their sixth victory as hosts in 10 games. Regensburg were largely a passenger in this contest, which was pretty much over after 30 minutes. Winger Braydon Manu slotted the ball into the bottom left of the goal on 18 minutes, and then SSV defender and Canadian international Scott Kennedy was sent off for a last-man foul. Seven minutes later and Darmstadt’s lead was doubled as Fabian Holland headed the ball past Jonas Urbig from close range. The hosts controlled the second half, elapsing 70 per cent of possession. To give you an idea of how the second half went, there were no shots on goal from both teams. Darmstadt won’t care, though, and they will prepare for Sandhausen away next week, and a huge cup tie in Frankfurt the week after. It’s all looking good in the state of Hesse.
Holstein Kiel 2-1 Greuther Fürth
Let’s be honest, the World Cup break came at the wrong time for Greuther Fürth. They had replaced Marc Schneider with Alexander Zorniger, and won three of four with Zorniger before the break. Fürth won three games all by a score of 1-0, and the 5-3-2 formation was working wonders with a squad that was bottom of the 2. Bundesliga earlier in the season. Fürth’s rise seemed to continue into 2023 as striker Dickson Abiama’s right-footed finish lifted the visitors into the lead on 30 minutes. Kiel responded after a disappointing opening half, and captain Hauke Wahl headed home from the near-post after a short corner was crossed in by Steven Skrzybksi. Guess what, another corner, and Kiel netted the winner. Simon Lorenz took the ball on the half-volley and smashed it past Andreas Linde. The defenders showed the attackers how to score in this game, Kiel are now unbeaten in four 2. Bundesliga matches!
Hannover 96 – 1. FC Kaiserslautern
The first Topspiel der Woche (match of the week) of 2023 was held at the HDI-Arena, as Hannover and Kaiserslautern battled. Both sides are currently outside of the promotion places but are projected to be in the hunt for the top three positions in the league come May. It wasn’t an amazing affair under the lights, but Hannover found a goal with the only shot on target in the first half. It was a surprise scorer in H96 left-back Derrick Köhn, the former 3. Liga champion netted his first 2. Bundesliga goal with a left-footed finish. It wouldn’t be a Topspiel game without drama. Kaiserslautern responded after the Hannover punch and threw one themselves. Defensive midfielder Julian Niehues — like Köhn — found his first 2. Bundesliga goal, and the 17th in his career. The former Borussia Mönchengladbach youth player headed the ball into the net from a Boris Tomiak corner. Kaiserslautern carried on pushing and found a lead on 66 minutes. A sublime cross by Hendrick Zuck fell right to FCK talisman Terrence Boyd, who made no mistake. Despite the DFL explicitly saying that they won’t deploy World Cup stoppage time, there were eight minutes added on. Hendrick Weydandt should’ve equalized for Hannover deep into the eight minutes, but his header from point-blank range was acrobatically saved by FCK keeper Andreas Luthe. Lautern provided the knockout punch after Philipp Hercher ran through the whole pitch and slotted the ball home, the third Kaiserslautern goal which ended all Hannover hopes for a point. Kaiserslautern move up to fourth in the table, two points behind Hamburg who play tomorrow. They couldn’t be promoted in back-to-back seasons, could they?