Hoffenheim’s new coach enjoyed a winning start as his team beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-0 today to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation.
The German club booted coach Marco Kurz and general manager Andreas Mueller on Tuesday and brought in Markus Gisdol, a 43-year-old who used to coach their reserves.
Kurz replaced former Germany, Liverpool and Bayern Munich defender Markus Babbel at the helm in January but lasted only ten matches, collecting just two wins and two draws. When he left, Hoffenheim were nine points adrift of safety. Thanks to this afternoon’s victory, they’ve cut the gap to six as Duesseldorf sit fifteenth, one place outside the drop/relegation play-off zone. But Hoffenheim have only six matches left.
Left back Fabian Johnson started for Hoffenheim but his fellow U.S international, midfielder Daniel Williams, was left out of the line-up.
Relegation after five seasons in Germany’s top tier would close the chapter on a remarkable rise that’s both romantic and routine.
The club from near scenic Heidelberg in south-west Germany were minnows playing fifth-level soccer as recently as 1999-2000, and everybody loves to see an underdog thrive. But how much of an against-the-odds tale is it? After all, much like Wigan Athletic in England, the club has been bankrolled and cultivated to a size far beyond its natural limits by a generous benefactor. In Hoffenheim’s case, that’s Dietmar Hopp, one of the founders of software giants SAP.
The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.
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Three moments that mattered
16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.
33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.
43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.
Man of the match: Luke Mulholland
Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)
Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]
United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.
All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]
Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.
You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.
[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.
[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.
The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.
Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.