Second-half goals from Andre Silva and a brace late on by substitute Stefan Ilsanker – his first two Bundesliga strikes – helped Eintracht Frankfurt to a comfortable win, pushing them above Cologne into 11th, all but ensuring their safety from relegation this term and inflicting Bremen’s 16th defeat of the season.
The first-half was somewhat of a drab affair at the Weserstadion, with Bremen more assertive in the early exchanges – though they failed to take advantage after goalkeeper Kevin Trapp made important saves to thwart both Davy Klaassen and Davie Selke.
A very lengthy VAR review saw Klaassen’s penalty appeal denied, after the former Everton and Ajax midfielder reacted instantly as defender David Abraham appeared to slap the ball mid-air in the box.
Ultimately though, the Dutch playmaker was offside when receiving the initial pass and play resumed unceremoniously with a Frankfurt free-kick.
After half-time, the hosts’ missed chances came back to haunt them. On the hour mark, midfielder Dominik Kohr had a goal correctly ruled out through VAR review – after straying offside. That was a warning sign that Bremen’s backline failed to heed.
Having sped past Daichi Kamada on the overlap, winger Filip Kostic fizzed a brilliant lofted cross into the area. Silva was in the right place and pounced to head into the bottom corner, beyond a helpless goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
Replays showed Frankfurt were perhaps fortunate to profit from Silva’s finish, as Makoto Hasebe committed a forceful challenge on compatriot Yuya Osako near the halfway line during the build-up to the goal – although referee Patrick Ittrich waved play on.
Bremen boss Florian Kohfeldt opted to make a double substitution immediately afterwards, calling upon Milot Rashica and Joshua Sargent to replace Fin Bartels and Selke, who was left frustrated by his inability to score despite encouraging flashes.
Ten minutes later, Frankfurt’s Mijat Gacinovic embarked on a slaloming run through midfield and skipped past two challenges on the edge of the box before firing inches wide of the far post. Again, another warning sign which Bremen needed to respond to.
Kevin Vogt, a centre-back by trade, was playing as part of the hosts’ midfield three alongside Klaassen and Maximilian Eggestein: two more creative-minded players.
It meant he was forced into doing more of the defensive work out of possession and was kept busy throughout, while the German isn’t exactly the most mobile player.
One moment which really typified the second-half for Bremen, was Vogt’s positioning and inability to sense danger with ten minutes left.
Ilsanker, who had jogged onto the pitch seconds earlier, ghosted into the box and was left unmarked after shrugging fellow sub Bittencourt aside to slot home from close-range.
He couldn’t believe his luck. Vogt meanwhile, was static just like the rest of his teammates who watched their deficit double in embarrassing circumstances.
Such limp defensive marking hurt to watch. Ilsanker, who had made 86 Bundesliga appearances without a single goal in his career, doubled his tally in stoppage-time.
Jonathan de Guzman, another late sub, delivered an inviting free-kick into the six-yard box and Ilsanker towered over Bremen captain Niklas Moisander to head home.
3-0 up, a straightforward brace for Ilsanker and all three points secured for a Frankfurt side who didn’t need to be at their best to expose a shaky Bremen defence who have now conceded a joint-high 62 goals this term.
Questions will be asked of Kohfeldt’s team selection, because if everyone was fit, why were Rashica and Saturday’s matchwinner Bittencourt both starting from the bench?
Frankfurt host 15th-placed Mainz on Saturday lunchtime, while Bremen play Euro-chasing Wolfsburg in one of three Bundesliga games this Sunday.
Things don’t get much easier from here in the battle against relegation for Werder, who still have to play leaders Bayern and face crunch games with mid-table sides too.