BERLIN: Werder Bremen’s relegation fears increased on Sunday following a 1-0 home defeat to Wolfsburg that started with a renewed show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Wout Weghorst headed home the decisive goal eight minutes before the end to push Wolfsburg back up to sixth and into the Europa League spots.
The Dutch international’s 12th league goal of the season came just seconds after Xaver Schlager crashed a shot off the bar and leaves Werder, the team with the most seasons in the Bundesliga, staring at the drop.
With four matches left, Florian Kohfeldt’s side are second-from-bottom, six points from safety and three from the relegation playoff place following back-to-back home defeats.
Werder are the league’s lowest scorers with 30 goals and have won just once at home all season, losing 11 times. Their performance on Sunday highlighted the problems that could see them down come the end of the season.
They travel to bottom side Paderborn next weekend in a match that could be decisive for their survival, with league leaders Bayern Munich the following weekend and relegation rivals Mainz, who are just outside the drop zone and won 2-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, three days later.
“It is very disappointing, but everything is still possible. We will give everything until the end,” said Werder captain Niklas Moisander to DAZN.
The match began after both starting elevens gathered round the center circle at the Weser Stadium before dropping to one knee, echoing a gesture made by Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin players and Mainz midfielder Pierre Kunde Malong on Saturday.
Union Berlin and Schalke players then did the same before their 1-1 draw in the German capital, which gives Union breathing space in the relegation battle.
Favorites to go down in their first ever Bundesliga season, Union are 13th on 32 points, seven ahead of Werder who occupy the final automatic relegation place, and four away from the playoff spot.
However their Nigerian striker Anthony Ujah failed in his attempt to score and take the knee himself, as he had promised he would do on Saturday. Ujah did set up Robert Andrich’s neat 11th-minute opener
Schalke, who grabbed a point thanks to a fierce Jonjoe Kenny strike in the 28th minute, have failed to win in 12 league games but stay 10th and are seven points from the European places.
“It’s a tough situation we’re in but it’s a good step to come away and get a point at a difficult place to come,” said English goalscorer Kenny.
With protests against police brutality and for racial equality taking place around the world on Sunday, the Bundesliga has become a stage for tributes to Floyd, a black American man who died last month at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
On Saturday, Dortmund players also wore messages on their T-shirts during their warm-up in honour of Floyd.
Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi wore the messages “no justice, no peace”, while midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can’s T-shirts displayed the words “black,” “white,” “yellow” and “red” crossed out, with the word “human” below.
Prior to their 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, Bayern Munich players warmed up in T-shirts bearing both the Black Lives Matter hashtag and the slogan of the club’s official “Reds Against Racism” campaign.