Werder Bremen picked up their second straight win of the season, narrowly beating Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
Leonardo Bittencourt would be the hero, as his goal was the deciding one after a relatively tense contest. Both sides showed promise, though, and will look to build upon their respective performances following the upcoming international break.
Story of the match
Bremen thought they had opened the scoring after 20 minutes, as Leonardo Bittencourt rifled home a shot from close range. However, the flag went up on the sidelines, and after a lengthy VAR review, the player was called offside. Unfortunately for him, he actually seemed even with the last defender.
Bittencourt would not be denied for long, though. A first time cross from Jean-Manuel Mbom picked out the former Hoffenheim man in the area, and he made no mistake with the finish, settling the ball before unleashing a volley that flew into the bottom corner to give the Green-Whites the lead.
There were few chances created in the first half, but the game was still exciting early on. It was a battle of contrasting styles, as Bielefeld tried to play out from the back while Bremen pressed them high up the field.
Bielefeld came very close to equalizing at the hour mark. A long pass was headed back across the area by Marcel Hartel, who managed to get the ball to Fabian Klos. The club captain was unable to finish off the move, though, as Jiri Pavlenka came out and made a massive save.
The Blues had the ball in the back of the net in the final minute, but the goal would be taken off the board in heartbreaking fashion. Pavlenka stopped the initial effort, but the rebound fell to Mike van der Hoorn, who seemed to have cleanly poked the ball over the line. However, a foul was called on him, as the referee deemed the move to be dangerous play as his cleats came up. It was an interesting decision, but was one that could have gone either way.
That was the final moment of the contest, as Bremen somehow managed to hold on to secure the win and three vital points.
Two good showings
Both teams were seen as relegation candidates going into the season, but this match seemed more like two solid midtable teams going at it.
Bielefeld were arguably the more impressive side throughout. Playing with calmness and composure on the ball, they dominated possession.
They managed to create a few chances, and were only let down by some poor finishing in the final third. To be fair, their disallowed goal in the final minute could have been given, but the loss shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Blues looked good throughout.
Bremen, who were ultimately victorious on the afternoon, were solid defensively and efficient going forward. They kept their first clean sheet of the campaign, as the backline handled pretty much whatever was thrown at them. The few times they gave up a chance, goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka stepped up and dealt with the situation.
The Green-Whites often hit on the counter, and made the most of their opportunities in the area. Leonardo Bittencourt took his goal very well, only needing a few seconds and a bit of space to pick out the bottom corner. They even had a goal of their own taken off the board, so Bremen were still deserved winners despite what happened at the end.
Each will look to build upon this performance for the rest of the campaign, and if they can keep this up, then neither will have to worry much about relegation.
Man of the match - Leonardo Bittencourt
The match winner, Leonardo Bittencourt had one of his best games in a Bremen kit against Bielefeld.
Active throughout, the midfielder was almost everywhere. Given plenty of freedom in the attack, Bittencourt floated around the pitch, sometimes staying central before darting out wide. His late runs into the area were especially dangerous, as the opposing defenders didn’t know who was supposed to pick him up.
Bittencourt’s effort was rewarded as he scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half. Settling a bouncing ball very well, he managed to set himself up for a volley that was placed perfectly into the bottom corner, past the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper.
He picked up a knock late on and had to be taken off as a result, but he should be able to return following the international break. Playing the way he has been, Bremen will hope that Bittencourt can now stay consistent and continue to lead the team going forward.