A hat trick for Finland international Joel Pohjanpalo once again pushed Berlin's Köpenick club to the edge of Europe in the 2020/21 German Bundesliga table.
A 3-1 win over SV Werder Bremen in the round 29 fixture at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei also had the effect of deepening the crisis enveloping Florian Kohfeldt's Hanseaten.
Werder's seventh straight defeat leaves them just one point above the relegation playoff place with three matches remaining.
|Joel Pohjanpalo.||Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
A pair of wide 3-5-2 formations squared off Saturday afternoon in East Berlin's Köpenick district. Unsurprisingly, a tactical stalemate ensuring during a goalless first half. Urs Fischer's Eisernen, spearheaded in attack a double-striker set of Max Kruse and Joel Pohjanpalo, still maintained a definite optical advantage and generated far more chances.
This looked to mean little as Kruse succumbed to injury during the opening 45 and had to be subbed off just prior to the restart. Five minutes into the second half, the hosts were able to open the scoring off a corner. A Marcus Ingvartsen service bounced off SV's Niclas Füllkrug before landing at the feet of Pohjanpalo, who fired home from close range.
Less than three minutes later, Petar Musa--on as Kruse's replacement--flicked on for Pohjanpalo in space. The Finn rifled home from a rightward position approximately nine meters out. Werder's backs were broken at the completion of Pohjanpalo's brace in the 53rd. Musa missed several of his own chances to extend the lead in the ten minutes that followed.
A Musa pass would put Pohjanpalo through again in the 67th, and the 26-year-old would complete a flawless hat trick by deftly nutmegging onrushing B Bremen keeper Jiri Pavlenka. Theodor Gebre Selassie snatched a late consolation prize after the damage was done. Bremen may now be considered in serious danger of relegation. Kohfeldt's men don't even get the week off, as they must face Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal Semi-finals on Friday.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, league-leaders FC Bayern München failed to officially clinch the title after a sensational upset loss to FSV Mainz 05. SC Freiburg and TSG tased goals to finish in a 1-1 draw.
In an absolutely vital showdown between two champions league aspirants, Borussia Dortmund defeated VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 despite being reduced to ten-men whilst leading 1-0. Erling Haaland shook off his finishing problems from the midweek tie to net a brace.
The Dortmund-Wolfsburg result has massive ramifications for the race for the 2021/22 UEFA Champions' League race as a three-game-winning streak as Edin Terzic's BVB now find themselves only two points behind Glasner's VfL in the quest for a top-four-spot.
Dortmund presently stand one point behind Frankfurt, who kick off against Leverkusen later this evening.