Strugglers Duesseldorf, Paderborn ease relegation fears
Bundesliga bottom side Paderborn and fellow strugglers Fortuna Duesseldorf earned valuable home wins on Sunday to boost their survival hopes.
A wonderful 90th-minute strike by substitute Erik Thommy gave Duesseldorf their first Bundesliga win since early November and sealed a 2-1 victory over Union Berlin.
Thommy came on midway through the second half and with time almost up, the midfielder casually turned his marker and unleashed a fierce shot which crashed in off the far post.
His superb strike gave Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz no chance.
It was heart-breaking for the Polish shot-stopper who had produced a reflex save to deny Fortuna striker Rouwen Hennings a second goal of the game just moments before.
The result leaves Duesseldorf third from bottom after a first league win in seven games since their 2-0 victory over Cologne, who are two points above them in the table.
The win was timely for Duesseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel, who is set to be offered an extension to his contract which expires in June.
"I assume I will sign a contract on Monday," he said.
Hosts Duesseldorf took the lead with a fantastic strike by Hennings, who volleyed into the top left-hand corner seven minutes before the break.
Union drew level three minutes after the restart when defender Michael Parensen, 33, claimed the first Bundesliga goal of his career by tapping home from a corner.
However, there was no denying Duesseldorf, who celebrated Thommy's late match-winner long after the whistle following their final match before the four-week winter break.
Despite the away defeat, Union are 11th at the halfway point of the season, one place and one point above neighbours Hertha Berlin in their first campaign in Germany's top flight.
Later, bottom side Paderborn also boosted survival hopes with a 2-1 win at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, thanks to first-half goals by midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri and defender Sebastian Schonlau, to leave them five points from safety.
Frankfurt's Dutch striker Bas Dost pulled a late goal back, but Paderborn held on for only their third league win this season.
Frankfurt are now winless in their seven league games since stunning Bayern Munich 5-1 in early November, which led to Niko Kovac being fired and replaced by Hansi Flick at the Bavarian giants.
The away defeat leaves Frankfurt 13th, three points above the relegation places.