Gikiewicz saves injury time penalty
Matchday 6 of the 2022/23 Bundesliga season saw FC Augsburg take a long trip north on a Friday evening, as they faced Werder Bremen. It was a journey to remember, too, as Enrico Maaßen’s side fought hard to secure a 1-0 victory over the newly-promoted side. The closing minutes of the match were the culmination of a highly charged and controversy-ridden affair.
FCA’s head coach decided on an attacking lineup at the Weserstadion, with a recovered Iago returning to the side alongside Florian Niederlechner and André Hahn. Two further players who missed last weekend’s fixture against Hertha BSC, Arne Maier and Fredrik Jensen, started the evening’s action on the substitutes’ bench.
As the rain poured down in Bremen, the match was in full flow right from the off. With just two minutes played, Mergim Berisha went through down the left, but his pass to Niederlechner was cut out. Not long later, Niederlechner was involved again – he rounded Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka, but then slipped in the wet conditions and was unable to convert (8’). At the other end, Werder had a shot through Marvin Ducksch, which was easily dealt with by Rafał Gikiewicz (14’).
The match proceeded to calm down a touch, which was somewhat unluckily brought about by the Werder shot-stopper. Pavlenka was forced off with a thigh injury on the half hour mark, and Michael Zetterer replaced him between the sticks. Celebrations then followed in the home end, as Niclas Füllkrug headed a free kick into the bottom corner (31’). It looked certain to be the lead for Bremen, but a long discussion between referee Martin Petersen and the VAR saw the goal chalked out for offside – Anthony Jung was in an illegal position and blocked two FCA defenders. A chance at either end saw the game through to a goalless half-time break, as Jens Stage missed for Werder before Hahn was denied by Zetterer at the other end.
The second 45 began with chances for Augsburg: two long-range efforts from Berisha and Niederlechner (47’, 48’), before a counter attack eventually petered out on 52 minutes. Around 11 minutes later, the reward for FCA’s strong second-half start came. Carlos Gruezo found Berisha with a fine diagonal pass, and he crossed in for Ermedin Demirović to slide home – a well-deserved lead for FCA!
The home side reacted to going behind with three changes, as did Enrico Maaßen, who brought birthday boy Jensen in for the goalscorer. A huge chance for Berisha to double the away side’s lead then came and went, as his effort hit the crossbar (76’). At the other end, Niklas Schmid was denied by a fine reaction stop from Gikiewicz, with Füllkrug also missing his effort eight minutes from time. Then, the drama really started, as Werder appealed for a penalty as the ball looked to strike Maximilian Bauer’s arm. The referee pointed to the spot, but Ducksch’s kick was brilliantly saved by Gikiewicz and the rebound was cleared. Emotions were already high in the game, but they boiled over at this point and the remaining throes of the game were played in an incredibly volatile Weserstadion.
This, the second win of FCA’s season, sees the Fuggerstädter climb to 11th in the Bundesliga table. Next up: FC Bayern at the WWK Arena. The German record champions head to Augsburg on September 17th (15:30 CEST).