Werder Bremen midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt scored a brilliant first-half winner to seal 1-0 victory at Freiburg on Saturday that reignited their hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.
The victory, at an empty Schwarzwald stadium on the second weekend of Bundesliga action since the league resumed after the COVID-19 stoppage, helped 10-man Bremen reach 21 points from 26 games, boosting their bid to avoid being relegated for the first time in 40 years.
They went ahead against the run of play in the 19th minute when Bittencourt ran on to a superb cross from fellow midfielder Davy Klaassen and finished into the bottom corner from distance for his third league goal of the season.
After Bremen midfielder Philipp Bargfrede was sent off in the 88th minute for a second yellow card, Freiburg had defender Manuel Gulde's late equaliser disallowed by the video assistant referee (VAR) as Nils Petersen was deemed to be offside.
"We had to win... and we gave it everything. After we took the lead we didn't play as well as we'd have liked, but we're delighted to have won here today," Bittencourt said.
The opener came shortly after Freiburg forward Roland Sallai missed a clear chance in the 17th minute, dragging his shot wide after Petersen chested the ball into the Hungarian's path.
Winger Vincenzo Grifo's free kick was acrobatically kept out early in the contest by Jiri Pavlenka and the Bremen goalkeeper was called into action again after the hour-mark, as he made a fine diving save to deny Nicolas Hoefler.
The hosts grew frustrated as the match wore on, with Bremen defending deep and in numbers to ensure their fifth win of the season and first since January.
Freiburg, who had a stoppage-time goal ruled out by VAR for offside in the 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig last time out, were left to rue their bad luck again.
They remained on 37 points from 27 games.
PADERBORN DRAW HOFFENHEIM 1-1
Dennis Srbeny's equaliser helped plucky Paderborn grab a 1-1 draw in their Bundesliga clash with Hoffenheim on Saturday, their second draw in two games since league play resumed after the coronavirus outbreak.
Bottom side Paderborn, who secured a scoreless draw away to Fortuna Dusseldorf last week, got off to the worst possible start when Danish international Robert Skov netted for the visitors after four minutes.
Yet a dreadful blunder by Hoffenheim defender Ermin Bicakcic five minutes later gifted the ball to Paderborn's Srbeny, and the striker curled home for the equaliser.
The goal was Srbeny's fifth in 10 Bundesliga outings since he joined Paderborn from Norwich City in January, with four of them coming in his last six games.
Skov, who scored his first Bundesliga goal for Hoffenheim against Paderborn in November, almost had another in the 20th minute as he deftly lifted a ball over the onrushing keeper, but it was cleared off the line by Jamilu Collins.
Paderborn almost went in at the break a goal up when Sebastian Vasiliadis pressured Sebastian Rudy and almost forced him to deflect a Gerrit Holtmann cross into his own net.
With Christoph Baumgartner superb in midfield for Hoffenheim, Paderborn's energetic attacking was all too often undone by loose passing around the centre of the pitch, leading to chances on the break for the visitors.
Yet despite there being plenty of chances in an open, free-flowing game, neither side could manage another goal, and Paderborn, who are without a win in their last eight league games remain bottom of the table on 18 points, while Hoffenheim are ninth on 36.