Germany: Bundesliga
5 - 1
(2 - 0)
K. Bellarabi (9), M. Diaby (24), M. Diaby (65), M. Diaby (69), L. Alario (81)
A. Maier (62)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15.30 Kickoffs: Diaby hat-trick sinks Augsburg, Dortmund pull off sensational win

There were no forgone conclusions as five sets of simultaneous 15:30 kickoffs in the 2021/22 German Bundesliga's 20th round moved into their final minutes. A barrage of late goals everywhere ensured that all fixtures finished with different score-lines than they had entering the 70th minute. 

Wins for Dortmund and Leverkusen see both teams solidify their place in the table. The BVB will retain second-place in the standings no matter what happens through the rest of the round. The same applies to Bayer and third-place. 

Elsewhere, Gladbach and Stuttgart plunge deeper into crisis with respective losses to Union Berlin and SC Freiburg. Fürth shocked Mainz at home to achieve just their second win of the season. 
Bayer 04 Leverkusen have a firm hold on third-place in the table thanks to a 5-1 dismantling of Augsburg Saturday afternoon at the BayArena. After the visiting Fuggerstädter pulled a goal back to bring the game back into reach just after the hour-mark, die Werkself exploded with three unanswered goals. French winger Moussa Diaby scored two in quick succession to complete a hat trick.

Still missing several midfield sixes (Charles Aranguiz, Julian Baumgartlinger, Exequiel Palacios, and Kerem Demirbay), Werkself trainer Gerardo Seoane once again had to improvise tactically. The B04 head-coach lined his men up in a 4-1-4-1 with Robert Andrich as the holding midfielder. Karim Bellarabi and Moussa Diaby worked the wingers ahead of fullbacks Mitchel Bakker and Jeremie Frimpong, respectively. Florian Wirtz and Amine Adli shared ten cuties behind Patrik Schick.

FCA gaffer Marcus Weinzierl stuck with his recently deployed 4-4-2, yet made some interesting personnel choices. Captain Jeffery Gouweleeuw moved into midfield to play alongside Niklas Dorsch in the six-pocket. Arne Maier, in turn, moved out to the left-wing to replace the benched Andi Zeqiri. Mads Pedersen replaced Iago at left fullback just beside the new central defensive pairing of Reece Oxford and Felix Uduokhai. Everything else remained unchanged. Ruben Vargas kept his right-wing role. Ricardo Pepi and Michael Gregortisch served as the two strikers.

After narrowly avoiding an own-goal by Frimpong, the home side were able to capitalize on their early dominance and go ahead 1-0 inside of ten minutes. Bakker crossed into the penalty area after a nice bit of interplay with Diaby. The trailing Bellarabi was able to latch onto the ball and finish from a very acute angle. Bellarabi nearly doubled the advantage three minutes later, but keeper Rafal Gikiewicz was on point to stop the subsequent effort. The two sides then traded chances in a very frantic phase of end-to-end action.

Gikiewicz again had to intervene strongly in the 18th to get his gloves around a Frimpong effort in the 18th. The former Freiburg and Union Berlin gloveman would nevertheless find himself powerless against a Diaby effort six minutes later. Schick and Adli combined quickly off a throw-in to service the Frenchman. Weinzierl's men supplied some fightback in the initial five minutes or so after the second goal. It still wasn't long before the NRW hosts began fully bossing the game. Schick found himself closed down by Gikiewicz on an excellent chance for the 3-0 shortly before the break.

Weinzierl opted for a double change at the half. Zeqiri and Lasse Günther replaced Pedersen and Vargas. The 18-year-old Günther--a former FC Bayern Campus prospect making just his second Bundesliga appearance--actually created some fresh offensive impetus for the Fuggerstädter early in the second half. Weinzierl made his third substitution twelve minutes after the restart. Florian Niederlechner replaced Pepi. Within five minutes, the Bavarian Swabians had pulled one back. Maier rushed in to finish off a Gregoritsch rebound in the 62nd. There was some hope.

Three minutes later, however, Leverkusen restored the two-goal cushion. Diaby completed a brace by finishing off his own rebound. Gikiewicz could only tip an Adli header off to the side, where the Frenchman was lurking. Four minutes after that, Diaby completed his hat trick. Frimpong set him up on a 69th minute counter for the 4-1. It took some time for the rattled visitors to muster up enough to courage to try and snatch a consolation. Unfortunately, one minute after they got their best chance in the 80th, Bayer substitute striker Lucas Alario scored a stunner of a first-time hit goal that sealed the victory.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, there was an absolute cracker of a five-goal thriller over in Sinsheim. Dortmund managed to hold off a determined TSG Hoffenheim side for a 3-2 victory. Both Marco Reus and Erling Haaland scored for the Schwarzgelben, but it was ironically a hard-luck David Raum own-goal that proved the difference. Dortmund once again move to within three points of league leaders FC Bayern München, who face Hertha BSC in tomorrow night's round capper.

The crisis deepens for two teams struggling mightily to find their form. VfB Stuttgart are now winless in five on the bounce after falling 0-2 to Freiburg at the Europa Park Stadion in Breisgau. The result didn't necessarily accurately reflect the amount of effort the Swabians put in, but Pellegrino Matarazzo's team now drops to the automatic relegation place with the loss.

Adi Hütter's Borussia Mönchengladbach also played a decent game against visiting 1. FC Union Berlin on Saturday afternoon. The hosting foals were nevertheless shocked by an 84th minute Max Kruse goal and ended up losing 1-2 on the Union front-man's brace. Gladbach have now only won one of their last ten games. Following the round 18 defeat of COVID-stricken Bayern, Hütter's men are now on another four-game-losing streak.

There's also big news at the bottom of the table. SpVgg Greuther Fürth were able to defeat Bo Svensson's FSV Mainz 05 2-1 to earn just their second win of the season. The Kleeblätter remain in last-place, but are suddenly within nine points of the relegation playoff place.

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