Vargas and Hahn on the mark from counterattacks
FC Augsburg returned from the international break with a 2-1 Bundesliga home win over Hoffenheim. The Fuggerstädter struck twice from deadly counterattacks in the first half to claim three points that see them climb above TSG in the table.
Head coach Heiko Herrlich made two changes to the side beaten 2-0 by SC Freiburg prior to the league’s brief hibernation, with Carlos Gruezo and Ruben Vargas preferred to Tobias Strobl and László Bénes, who dropped to the bench.
The introduction of Vargas certainly paid dividends. The Switzerland international set up the first chance of the game for Daniel Caligiuri after five minutes, before opening the scoring himself soon after. After winning the ball in midfield, Caligiuri drove at the Hoffenheim defence and laid the ball off to the supporting Ruben Vargas, who applied a low finish into the far corner to make it 1-0 (8’).
It was a deserved lead for FCA, who looked the sharper team in the opening exchanges and looked to get forward quickly after winning possession. That direct play did the job once again midway through the half, with Vargas’ Hail Mary from the edge of his own box playing André Hahn in behind the high TSG backline. The pacy forward took the ball in his stride and thundered a devastating finish past Oliver Baumann to make it 2-0 after 23 minutes.
Hoffenheim enjoyed more possession during the first 45, but they only started to threaten the FCA goal shortly before the break. Christoph Baumgartner had a shot narrowly clear the target (35’), while Rafał Gikiewicz’s only involvement was to gather a header from Ihlas Bebou (39’).
Raphael Framberger and the impressive Vargas made way at half time following a strenuous international break for the Swiss, with Michael Gregoritsch and Mads Pedersen introduced for the second 45. Neither side brought much tempo to the pitch after the change of ends, with Augsburg content to diligently defend their lead against a Hoffenheim side also playing against the clock.
It took until the hour mark for the game to get going again, with Gikiewicz able to make a comfortable save from Pavel Kaderabek’s header. Things started to get a little dicey soon after though. Bebou found himself one-on-one with the FCA goalkeeper, but he made a superb save to keep the two-goal lead intact. It was a moment that heightened the senses for the Augsburg defence, and they were more successful at keeping TSG at arm’s length in the period that followed.
With the game nearing a close, Robert Skov half-volleyed an unstoppable shot into the top corner to provide a tense ending at the WWK Arena (85’). Hoffenheim had renewed hope, but Gikiewicz came out on top when the visitors’ last meaningful chance fell to Mijat Gacinovic, ensuring a 2-1 victory and three points for the Fuggerstädter.
After five straight home defeats against TSG, it was a welcome win on home soil for FCA, who now have 32 points to their name, taking them above Hoffenheim (30 points) in the Bundesliga table. Next up, it’s a trip to last-placed FC Schalke 04 next Sunday (11th April, 15:30 CEST).