Richter and Niederlechner score in home win
FCA have picked up another important three points against one of their close competitors in the league in 1. FSV Mainz 05 with a 2-1 home win. After the Zerofivers took the lead luckily and against the run of play, FCA turned the game around in the second half.
After the draw away at FC Köln last week, FCA head coach Martin Schmidt made three changes to his starting eleven. Stephan Lichtsteiner and Marco Richter started, along with Fredrik Jensen, who was making his first start of the season. Raphael Framberger was injured in the last match and Andre Hahn was serving a suspension, but Sergio Cordova was well enough to make the bench.
Augsburg started off the game incredibly well, having chance after chance in just the first five minutes. First, Ruben Vargas steered Jensen’s cross onto the inside of the post (2’), before Richter hit the side netting following a cross from Philipp Max (3’). The Swiss was heavily involved in the biggest chance of the opening stage of the game, where he beat his man on the left and crossed to Marco Richter, who had an empty net at his mercy, yet somehow fired wide (11’). So while FCA failed to take their chances, Mainz managed to take the lead from almost nothing. Levin Öztunali was allowed too much space on the edge of the area and fired a dipping and swerving effort from long range into the net to give Mainz a 1-0 lead (15’). FCA had to shake off the effect this goal fast and proceeded to deny the visitors many more clear-cut chances.
FCA had two clear chances to equalise, but twice Jeremiah St. Juste was on han to deny Florian Niederlechner (18’/27’) while Tomas Koubek did well to save from Jean-Paul Boetius in a 1-on-1. After half an hour, Schmidt made his first change, as Jan Moravek came on for the struggling Rani Khedira (26’). Towards the end of the first half, Augsburg cranked up the pressure, but it seemed like the scores would not change until late on. Vargas powered into the area and found the unmarked Richter with a ball into the penalty area, but he missed again from close range (32’). A little later, Vargas was in the thick of it once more, as his long-range drive flew narrowly over the crossbar (39’). As the home fans began to think that this wasn’t to be their afternoon, FCA scored an overdue equaliser. Max fed Niederlechner who ran to the goalline and sent in a fizzing cross on the ground which Richter tapped into an empty net to make the score 1-1 (41’).
Compared to the blistering pace of the first half, the second half started rather tamely. Although FCA had more of the ball, there was a lot less dangerous open play, as Mainz had made substitutions and tactical changes, from three at the back to four. FCA finally found the lead through a penalty. After Kunde clipped Vargas in the area, referee Markus Schmidt decided to award a penalty after consulting with VAR. Niederlechner stepped up and struck the ball into the top-right corner to give the home side the lead – his seventh goal of the season (65’).
Now defending a lead, FCA withdrew from the game, content on sitting back and giving their guests the lion’s share of possession. Augsburg sent only a few attacking forays out, while making sure that there was no danger of a counterattack and a Mainz equaliser. While Mainz lacked a real ‘final offensive’ FCA kept themselves going with repeated clearances, and were denied that crucial third goal when Jensen’s effort was turned onto the post by Zentner. So the game ended 2-1 to FCA.
Ausgburg therefore managed to pick up their third win from their last four games. On Friday 13th December (20:30 CET), FCA travel in the double gameweek to TSG Hoffenheim.