A win for Freiburg would see them confirm their return to the Bundesliga. All that stood between them and their return was 17th placed Paderborn. I wrongly though they wouldn’t pose any significant problems, well I was certainly wrong about that. They more than put up a fight and came close to doing to Freiburg what Gladbach did to Bayern on Saturday, to making them wait for their celebrations. Freiburg needed a little bit of luck but they got there in the end, they may have gotten lucky in this game but luck alone didn’t get them this far. Luck didn’t score that all important first goal or so many of the others they’ve scored this season. It’s kind of fitting in a way that Freiburg confirm their promotion with a win against Paderborn, given that the last time they played they were both Bundesliga teams. At the moment their fates could not be more diametrically opposed with Freiburg returning to the top flight and Paderborn struggling to just stay in the second tier. Despite their very different situations Paderborn made life very difficult for Freiburg and it was not nearly as easy as their last encounter in which they won 4-1 and Nils Petersen scored a hat-trick.
It doesn’t matter that it didn’t go as well as the first encounter. Nor does it matter Paderborn had the better chances in the first half. Well truth is for the first fifteen minutes they had the only chances, because with their defensive discipline they managed to prevent the best offense in the league from even getting a shot on target. There was however little to be worried about, Paderborn couldn’t hold out forever and their discipline was no match for individual quality. There’s no point having all those chances if you’re not going to take them and they didn’t. All that work and they have nothing to show for it. The goal they did get only came about because of an error on Schwolow’s part. As for Freiburg it took until the 23rd minute before they got a decent scoring opportunity and unsurprisingly it was Petersen who got the chance. His shot was nicely hit but unfortunately just off target. They didn’t get many more chances in the remainder of the first half, the one good chance they did get was Philipp on the volley just before the end of the first half. Despite taking a deflection it still proved a little tricky for the keeper but he managed to deal with it. A minute or so later Günter took aim from long range, it wasn’t far off and with them struggling for opportunities then I guess he thought why not.
All in all the first half was most disappointing for Freiburg but the didn’t take long to fix that in the second half. It took just 17 seconds for Mike Frantz to score the opening goal. Whatever the missing piece was, whatever they needed to change or do differently they wasted no time in working it out and putting it into practice. A strong pass from Maximilian Philipp, Frantz took advantage of the slowness of the Paderborn defenders and just like that goal, 1-0 to Freiburg. Evidently their heads were still back in the dressing room. A fact made more apparent when Freiburg scored again just a few minutes later. Though that time they did get a little bit of luck. Paderborn once again caught napping, a defensive error which Petersen was all too keen to take advantage of. He did so and then chipped it over the keeper for what you have to say is a cheeky little goal, I think in fact it may be one of my favourites of the season and not just because it’s the goal which confirmed their return to the Bundesliga, Though you have to admit it’s very fitting that Petersen scored the goal. Even more fitting because he scored last time against Paderborn too, though that time they lost so it’s like putting things right. It’s all too perfect, he scored Freiburg’s last goal in the Bundesliga before relegation and he scores the goal to send them back there: No doubt feeling a lot more confident having a 2-0 lead behind them Freiburg looked a lot sharper in the second half and in the 51st minute Grifo came close to making it three. Paderborn however weren’t given up and they were gifted a goal in the 56th minute when Schwolow mishit the throw-in from Stenzel. Moritz Stoppelkamp was there to take full advantage and he did so, putting the ball past a helpless Schwolow. Unsurprisingly it made Paderborn think they had a chance of getting back into the game. They got an opportunity to equalise just a few minutes later, this time however Schwolow was there and took care of it with no problem. The next chance however was not so easy to deal with and in fact Schwolow could do nothing, the shot from Stoppelkamp hit the underside of the bar and left him standing there helpless. I wasn’t too worried in the first half about Freiburg being able to break though the defence but I have to admit to being a little concerned in the second half, Paderborn equalizing would have been a huge disappointment. Not as much as last time given that it’s a very different situation but still it would not have been cool.
The final twenty minutes were very nervy indeed, especially when Schwolow accidentally punched a Paderborn player in the head, no way was it a penalty but it was a very few nervous minutes whilst he was still on the floor anyway. Even more nerve-wracking was the fact the header in question rattled off the underside of the crossbar. Two shots both off the underside of the crossbar, you got the feeling Freiburg’s luck might run out before the game was over. Especially seeing as how they didn’t look threatening enough to score a third and put the game beyond doubt. Other than how uncomfortable the last 15 minutes of the game was the only thing to put a damper on the impending celebrations was Pascal Stenzel’s double yellow and subsequent red card. Understandably things got a little heated in the final few minutes of the game, when Grifo ended up being upended some of the Paderborn players got impatient and started a shoving match. The stakes for them could not be higher, Freiburg were hanging on for their return to the Bundesliga, but those three points for Freiburg would send Paderborn to 18th place, the foot of the table where up till now Duisburg had lived.
A whole five minutes of extra time was a nightmare to sit through, even more so when Paderborn were gifted an opportunity to get level with a free-kick right on the edge of the box. A free-kick I’m happy to say was blasted over the bar by Stoppelkamp. The corner in the third minute of extra time got them no closer, it being headed out immediately, safety first. The final two minutes were every bit as heated as the previous few had been, Christian Streich being his usual hot headed self. He has that in common with Jogi and Thomas Tuchel, he can be relied upon to provide great GIF material:
It was a painful final two minutes, waiting for the inevitable. Unlike last season it’s a good thing you were waiting for but it only makes it a little easier. Seeing the rest of the squad standing on the touchline waiting for the final whistle made it even harder. And then finally what we’ve spent all season waiting for, party time. Revenge over Paderborn again, another three points for Freiburg and another goal for Petersen in his quest to once again be the 2.B top-scorer:
I was wrong in expecting Paderborn not to provide a difficult challenge but I was right about one thing on MD32, Arminia Bielefeld did manage to hold RB Leipzig to a draw meaning they have to wait for confirmation of their promotion status. Though it’s a dead cert anyway thanks to Nürnberg screwing up on Saturday against Eintracht Braunschweig:
RB Leipzig v Arminia Bielefeld MD32 highlights
Pictures from the game: