Paderborn was relegated from the Bundesliga after dropping to a 1-0 defeat at Union Berlin with a goal from Ben Zolinski sending the East Westphalians down. To keep their slim survival hopes alive, Paderborn coach Steffen Baumgart attempted a new tactical approach with a three-man line, but an injury to Christian Strohdiek after just 14 minutes led to a premature rethink.
Marius Bülter headed Leopold Zingerle ‘s goal for the big game’s first attempt as the Paderborn defense regrouped.
Nevertheless, when faced with a Christopher Trimmel set piece, even the most organized defense fails, and Paderborn’s were no exception in the 27th minute when the Union defender’s delivery came in through a deflection from Ben Zolinski’s stick.
Union’s defense demonstrated how it should be done in the first half, while Marvin Friedrich took all six of his challenges and just one out of seven defeated Keven Schlotterbeck.
Trimmel also proved himself a reliable defender as he denied Paderborn a tempting opening to the right, blocking a pass on the mark that would have taken Zolinski through.
Union had to become more and more defensive as Paderborn pushed for an unlikely lifeline, but despite the visitors’ sustained efforts, the best chance of the second half fell at the other end, where Robert Andrich’s shot hit the inside of the post and Sebastian Andersson could only push the rebound into the side netting.
With eight points separating them from safety, and only two games left to play, Paderborn’s relegation has been confirmed in the top flight after just one season, while Union will remain in the top flight for another season thanks to those three points. Nils Petersen came out of the bench again to score and seal a 2-1 win for Freiburg over Hertha Berlin, a result that keeps the Black Forest club in the hunt for a top-six final.
Wolfsburg’s loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the day before fixture meant both of these teams had the opportunity to make up ground in their European qualification hopes.
The game started accordingly at a frenetic pace as each sought to achieve control but at first, it was Hertha who was on top. Niklas Stark had just missed the goal from Vladimir Darida ‘s cross, while Vedad Ibisevic’s last gasp defending Philipp Lienhart was thwarted two times.
Gradually, however, Freiburg began to fashion some of its chances, with Robin Koch heading wide from Vincenzo Grifo’s corner before Roland Sallai showed the superb ability to handle a looping ball to the back post, only to shoot wide from close range.
The match was equally intense after the interval and Dodi Lukebakio thought he had put the visitors ahead with a brilliant, swerving shot from the edge of the area but was disallowed for a foul in the build-up after a VAR review. Not long afterward, Freiburg took the lead when Grifo caught Rune Jarstein with a fast-paced direct free-kick from 20 yards.
They were stuck back soon, though, when Vedad Ibisevic equalized from the penalty spot after Koch had fouled Peter Pekarik. Darida almost scored the second of the visitors with a well-saved rasping drive but soon afterward the Czech midfielder got involved at the other end of the pitch as Freiburg regained their advantage.
He miscontrolled a Jarstein pass, allowing Petersen to nick the ball off his toe and poke into the winner, elevating the Black Forest club to the sixth point in Wolfsburg.