Germany: Bundesliga
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J. Wind (43)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Wolfsburg take relegation race points while Köln falter, RB and TSG win

Two relegation six-pointers between four teams threatened by the drop ended with VfL Wolfsburg dutifully taking care of business at the Volkswagen Arena whilst 1. FC Köln completely blew it in front of their hometown fans at the RheinEnergieStadion.

Wolfsburg move four points clear of the relegation pack after a 1-0 home win over Bochum. Köln remain four points below the relegation playoff place after losing 0-2 at home to visiting Darmstadt. 

There was plenty more of interest in the latest set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs. Hoffenheim maintained some European hopres with a wild 4-3 win over Gladbach. RB Leipzig kept the pressure on Dortmund in the race for the top-four with a 2-1 win away at Heidenheim. 

In an immensely important bottom dweller battle between two clubs in serious administrative disarray, VfL Wolfsburg have picked up their second win under newly installed trainer Ralph Hasenhüttl. A 1-0 win over visiting VfL Bochum helps the VWers put some important distance between themselves and the rest of the relegation pack. Bochum remain only one point removed from the relegation playoff place. FSV Mainz 05 have a chance to overtake the 1848ers in the 15th place with a win against Freiburg tomorrow. 

Hasenhüttl made three changes to the side that lost 0-3 to Leipzig last week. Attackers Jonas Wind and Tiago Tomas were preferred to Kevin Behrens and Amin Sarr. Additionally, Maxence Lacroix returned from suspension to fill in for the himself suspended Moritz Jenz in defense. The German Wolves maintained their 3-4-3 shape. New VfL Bochum trainer Heiko Butscher chose to rely on the exact same XI as last week, though the Revierklub switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

Matters initially unfolded as one might expect from two teams low on confidence and facing the drop. A cagey and cautious first half yielded little offensively from either side. The Westphalian guests began to exhibit more organization after the half-hour mark and - for a moment - thought they had snatched the lead. Unfortunately, a Patrick Osterhage goal off a corner in the 39th was chalked off for offside. Shortly thereafter, Wolfsburg took the lead out of nowhere.

Wind smashed home the 1-0 in the 43rd after Bochum failed to clear a routine long ball out of the box. Though Hasenhüttl's men had pressed bravely throughout the opening 45, the one-goal half-time lead was more than a flattering scoreline for the outplayed hosts. The second half featured some fierceness from the to squads as each attempted to break a tight mid-field stalemate. Chances were nevertheless almost non-existent. 

The Lower Saxon hosts shelled up with about ten minutes remaining, enabling Bochum to at least attain some penetration in the final minutes. Hasenhüttl's crew took advantage of Bochum's vulnerability on the counter to produce two late chances to increase the lead. Misses from youngsters Kevin Paredes and Kilian Fischer meant that the narrow 1-0 scoreline prevailed. 

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, another bottom table basement duel with massive relegation race implications ended with hosting Köln squandering perhaps their best opportunity to avoid relegation from the current field. Germany's cathedral city side lost 0-2 to last-placed SV Darmstadt 98. Torsten Lieberknecht's Lilies snapped a 22-match winless run with the result.

Darmstadt's bagged three points likely come too little too late to help the Hessen-based clubs survival prospects. The Lilies remain nine points below the relegation playoff place with four match-days remaining. Köln are now barely breathing themselves; still four points below present relegation playoff place holders FSV Mainz 05. Both Köln and and Bochum will be hoping that Mainz lose against Freiburg tomorrow evening. 

Down south at the Voith Arena in Heidenheim, RB Leipzig had some difficulty with Frank Schmidt's FCH in the Albogen club's first home game since the shock comeback win over German record champions FC Bayern München. Hosting Heidenheim took a 1-1 deadlock into the final five minutes of normal time. RB striker Loïs Openda broke the deadlock and delivered all three points to the German Red Bulls. Dortmund must respond with a win tomorrow. 

A match with little meaning between mid-table sides Borussia Mönchengladbach and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim did (predictably enough) produce the most goals. Two teams with nothing much to gain or lose played loosely enough to allow for seven goals to be scored at Sinsheim's PreZero Arena. BMG striker Robin Hack recorded a hat-trick for Gerardo Seoane's visiting Fohlenelf, but Gladbach were ultimately outdone by an Anton Stach goal in second half injury time.

The 4-3 victory for Hoffenheim does give the Kraichgauer some hope of competing for the UEFA Europa Conference League playoff spot. The TSG, Freiburg, and Augsburg are all tied on points in the race for the last European place directly available in the table. Eintracht Frankfurt appear to have a good grip on the second Europa League slot, rising six points above all three clubs after beating Augsburg last night. 

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