Berisha does it again!
FC Augsburg celebrated a 1-0 win over Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the opening game of matchday 19 in front of 27,318 spectators at the WWK ARENA, meaning they not only secured a second league victory over B04 this season, but they also repeated the same result they managed in their previous home fixture against Gladbach.
Compared to their last match in Freiburg, head coach Enrico Maaßen made one change to the starting XI. Erin Demirović - Augsburg’s top scorer this season (six) - missed the game due to suspension, and so Fredrik Jensen came into the side in his place.
Friday evenings and FCA have suited each other brilliantly in recent times. They’ve won four consecutive matches in this slot in all competitions, including a 1-0 away win vs. SV Werder Bremen on matchday 6. Maaßen’s side thus began the game confidently and had lots of spells of possession in the opening quarter of an hour. However, the only chance at the start of the game fell to Leverkusen via a Pedro Hincapié header, which was comfortably saved by Rafał Gikiewicz (9’).
A very tactical game would then unfold, as Arne Engels cross appeared to catch Jensen, who was lurking in the penalty area, by surprise (15’). At the other end, Hincapié took his latest attempt on goal and went to ground following a collision with Elvis Rexhbecaj, but the defender did not receive the penalty he was looking for, rather a yellow card (27’). Moussa Diaby then had his first real opportunity, with his shot going just wide of the right post after a clever one-two with Jeremie Frimpong (29’). Dion Beljo saw his left-footed shot from 17 metres out saved by Lukás Hrádecky (31’), and the game remained goalless going into half time.
Both teams came out unchanged after the break, as Diaby (46’) and Jensen (47’) had the first attempts of the second half. Augsburg opened the scoring in the 55th minute: Mergim Berisha was in plenty of space despite being just a few yards out from goal, and headed home following a beautiful corner from Engels, his fifth of the season, to make it 1-0. Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso reacted promptly and introduced attacking talents Florian Wirtz and Kerim Demirbay to the game (62’).
B04 began to up the tempo, but FCA were once again able to rely on Gikiewicz, as he saved his side on two occasions, first from Frimpong (69’) and then Diaby (77’). In between these two chances, Berisha had a huge opportunity to score a second, but the attacker was unable to control the return pass from Pedersen (71’). Maaßen slowed the game down with a few substitutions, one of which saw Aaron Zehnter make his Bundesliga debut (90’). After enduring an incredibly long period of second half stoppage time, FCA could finally celebrate victory when Marco Fritz blew the full-time whistle in the 96th minute!
FC Augsburg’s second home victory in a row sees them move onto 21 points and temporarily overtake TSG Hoffenheim in the league standings. Next week, Maaßen’s side travel to Mainz (11th February, 15:30 CET), before a home match against the aforementioned Hoffenheim awaits.