After a rotten first half, the game burst into life with Mike Frantz and Nils Petersen putting Freiburg two-nil up.
Paderborn fought back and halved the deficit through Moritz Stoppelkamp, but a combination of the woodwork and poor finishing cost them dearly.
Lacklustre start to a crucial game
It was a slow start to proceedings at the Benteler-Arena, though Paderborn had an early attempts at goal. Both Moritz Stoppelkamp and Kevin Stöger had good chances to force Alexander Schwolow into an early save, only to see the pair miss the target. Freiburg's dominated possession but any forays forward were limited.
Stoppelkamp then fired a real statement of intent when a clever pass from Süleyman Koc allowed him to race into space. The midfielder poked the ball at goal and hit the bar, much to his own disgust. That sparked Freiburg into an almost immediate response, and Nils Petersen dragged his shot a whisker wide of the bottom corner.
In a first half that lacked quality on either side, it was a tough watch for everyone. Such was the frustration on both sides, Marvin Bakalorz's 35-yard drive was one of the half's more interesting moments. Daniel Heuer Fernandes was forced into a late stop by a well-hit Maximilian Philipp volley, and the half-time whistle sounded soon after.
Goals, woodwork and more in stunning second half
What was lacking in the first period was soon found in the second. A goal came after 17 seconds for Freiburg, and the relief was obvious. A superb through ball from Philipp left the Paderborn defence stood still, and Mike Frantz was on hand to pounce. He raced through to collect and chip over the oncoming 'keeper to spark wild celebrations.
The delerious travel support were pleased as things were, but a second goal in as many minutes meant they were in dreamland. Some horrible defending from the home back-line saw a Nikas Hoheneder miss-kick landed straight at the feet of Nils Petersen. He chipped Heuer Fernandes for his 21st of the season; Paderborn had crumbled.
Vincenzo Grifo very nearly made it three within the five minutes since the restart, though Heuer Fernandes made another good save. He was made to rue that miss in the period of play that followed, as a bobble meant Schwolow skewed his free-kick up in the air. Stoppelkamp was on hand to score, popping the ball into an empty net.
Luck was not on Paderborn's side on the night and the bar came to Freiburg's rescue twice within the space of 10 minutes after pulling a goal back. First, Stoppelkamp sent a superb 25-yard curler onto the underside of the woodwork before Hoheneder was denied in similar circumstances with a header.
Late chances were at a premium, although Grifo fired over from close range after working a particularly good chance. The visitors were edging closer to the full-time whistle without much trouble until Pascal Stenzel was sent off for two yellow cards in as many minutes. Freiburg did hold on, though, and they'll be back in the Bundesliga at the first time of asking. Paderborn, however, are now bottom with just two games left.