Augsburg secured their Bundesliga status for another season on Saturday as they defeated Werder Bremen 2-0 at the WWK Arena.
In a contest that saw both sides finish with 10 men, it would be the hosts who edged out a vital win, as Rani Khedira opened the scoring in the second half before a late penalty from Daniel Caligiuri sealed the win and safety for his side.
Bremen, meanwhile, dropped down into the relegation play-off spot due to this result and scores elsewhere. Considering the fixture list for the final day of the season, there’s a decent chance that they could end up in the bottom two, which would lead to automatic relegation.
Story of the match
After an even start, the first real chance fell to Bremen. A flick-on header from Josh Sargent played Niclas Füllkrug into space in the area, but he snatched at a volley, hitting the ball wide.
Augsburg would then be dealt a seemingly major blow as Ruben Vargas was sent off. It was a moment of madness from the player, who kicked out at Theodor Gebre Selassie after a very minor collision in midfield, leaving the referee with no other choice than to show him a straight red, really.
That allowed Bremen the freedom to push further forward, and they nearly opened the scoring in the 20th minute. A loose ball fell to Sargent in the box, and his shot went past goalkeeper Rafał Gikiewicz, who had come out. However, it didn’t get past Reece Oxford, and he was able to clear the attempt away.
The away side continued to keep up the pressure, but it would be Augsburg who had the last real chance of the first half. A corner was headed towards goal by André Hahn, but it ended up hitting a Bremen player in the head before flying out of play.
Die Grün-Weißen would be reduced to 10 men minutes into the second half. Christian Groß, who was already on a yellow, put in a careless challenge, taking out Florian Niederlechner. As like earlier, the referee was left with no other option than to send the player off after showing him a second yellow.
Augsburg then opened the scoring a bit before the hour mark. Far from the prettiest goal, the ball kept bouncing around the area following a corner before it eventually fell to Rani Khedira, who took a quick shot. It was a bit scuffed, but it got the job done, as the ball rolled off the post and into the back of the net.
Some nice play from Füllkrug led to a decent opportunity, as a clever first touch got him past a defender, but his effort was saved by Gikiewicz.
Bremen nearly equalized in spectacular fashion. Leonardo Bittencourt went for a volley from distance, and he made excellent contact on the strike. However, he could only watch as the ball ricocheted off the post and away from danger.
The hosts would put the tie to bed late on as Daniel Caligiuri slammed home a penalty kick to double their advantage. The referee pointed to the spot after Milot Rashica took down Hahn in the area, and the aforementioned Italian made no mistake from the spot, rifling the ball past Jiří Pavlenka even though he guessed the right way.
Time to panic for Bremen
Bremen are in serious danger of going down.
As mentioned earlier, they are currently sat in 16th place, which would put them in the relegation play-off. However, Köln are only one point behind them, and they play Schalke on the final day. That’s a very winnable fixture, and if they pick up all three points there, then Bremen would need to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach to stay ahead of them.
Die Grün-Weißen could avoid automatic relegation with a tie even if Köln win as long as Arminia Bielefeld lose away to Stuttgart, but that’s not a guarantee either. All in all, Bremen will almost certainly need a result, and considering the way they are playing at the moment, that could be tough.
Everything’s just a bit of a mess. Manager Florian Kohfeldt keeps making the same mistakes with his starting lineups, hampering his team in the process. The defense is still leaking goals, and there’s a lack of ideas going forward.
Bremen are going to have to turn things around very quickly if they want to stay up. The pressure is absolutely on at this stage, and almost everything will be left to play for next weekend.
Time will tell what does happen, but for all involved with the club, this coming week is going to be a very nervy one.
Man of the match - Rani Khedira
In a game of fine margins, Rani Khedira was ultimately the hero for his side.
His goal, the matchwinner, was a scrappy one. The ball somehow fell his way, and he was able to get a shot off that bounced off the post and into the back of the net. It was ugly, but neither him or his team will care.
The German also did his job in the middle of the park, supporting the defense when need be while helping keep possession going forward. It was a very solid showing in his last ever home game for the club, sending him off in style.
Augsburg will be a Bundesliga team next season, and they have Khedira to thank for that.