"We just weren't there, and so we had problems," said Hamburg coach Martin Jol. "We committed errors before all three goals, and you can't afford to do that against a very good side like Hoffenheim." Hoffenheim's Ralf Rangnick was understandably more content: "The team played exactly as planned. It's been together for over a year and we've only made changes in one or two positions. Everyone knows their role."
The goals count was down to a relatively low 23 in the weekend's nine games, but there were still a couple of impressive comeback victories. One was by Bayern Munich, hitting Wolfsburg for four at home after going 2-0 down. At the same time, Juergen Klinsmann's team jumped six places to fifth, reflecting the tightness at the top and Bayern's gradual return to form. Miroslav Klose tallied three assists as Franck Ribery, Mark Van Bommel, Tim Borowski and Sebastian Schweinsteiger hauled back the deficit.
Klinsmann complimented his team for turning the game around, but said it was "a lot of work, and not a game for people with weak nerves." Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath, never one to mollycoddle his own players after defeat, charged them instead with being "too scared to win" despite having taken the lead. "We played passively and allowed Bayern back into it. It showed too, that this is also a question of quality."
The other comeback win was Frankfurt's, which a week ago had not yet won a game this season. In a make-up game at home to Karlsruhe Wednesday, it scored two late goals to finally register a victory, then on Saturday won 3-2 at bottom-placed Cottbus, despite having gone 2-0 behind to a Dimitar Rangelov brace after just 15 minutes. Goals from Michael Fink, Martin Fenin and Nikos Liberopoulos turned the game around, prompting Cottbus coach Bojan Prasnikar to wonder why his team played so deep after taking the early lead. Frankfurt's Friedhelm Funkel, meanwhile, "couldn't lift enough hats" to his players for the "passion and huge effort" they showed in getting back into the game.
Bayer Leverkusen did enough to jump into second by beating Cologne 2-0, while Schalke was held at home 0-0 by a lowly Bielefeld side reduced to 10 men. Schalke coach Fred Rutten added to soccer's fount of wisdom by observing, "If you want to win, you have to score goals." His players will doubtless heed those words next time they take the field. Bremen for once was involved in a low-key game, taking a point in a 1-1 draw in Hannover. Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf termed his team's performance "OK," and was glad it appeared "clearly more secure at the back." U.S. national team defender Steve Cherundolo played through for Hannover, accumulating a yellow card in the process.
Cherundolo's compatriot Michael Bradley played 77 minutes of Borussia Moenchengladbach's valuable 1-0 home win over fellow strugglers Karlsruhe, while Neven Subotic, the hoped-for American, played through in the Dortmund defense in its 1-1 home tie with Hertha Berlin, a result that Hertha coach Lucien Favre, happily, "can live with." Stuttgart and Mario Gomez scored twice late on to beat Bochum 2-0 and move up to fourth.
HIGHLIGHT (VIDEO): Chinedu Obasi's take and turn under pressure before putting Hoffenheim 1-0 up on Hamburg.