FCA kicked off their tenth Bundesliga season with a convincing victory, beating 1. FC Union Berlin 3-1 away from home on Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Heiko Herrlich put his faith in the same starting XI that beat MTV Eintracht Celle 7-0 in the DFB-Pokal last week. Rafal Gikiewicz, who joined this summer from Union, enjoyed a winning debut against his old club.
Over 4,000 fans at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei witnessed an even affair in the opening stages. Both teams tried to build from the back, but found themselves getting caught too easily under pressure. On the ball, both were lacking the clinical edge in the final third, thus it was a game dominated by midfield battles. The first notable chance fell in the 19th minute when Marcus Ingvartsen volleyed wide from Christian Gentner’s wide cross.
Though both sides defending resolutely, allowing little room for error, Herrlich’s men found a way through the Berlin back line shortly before the break. Daniel Caligiuri sent Raphael Framberger down the wing, who whipped the ball in to Ruben Vargas who headed Augsburg ahead from close range (40’).
Union emerged for the second half with renewed confidence, Marius Bülter probing from range early on (48’). As the hosts increased their intensity in attack, Augsburg sat a little deeper to protect the lead. The shift initially off, as Union struggled to find their way past the FCA defence.
The hosts were rewarded for their pressure eventually when Christopher Lenz picked out Bülter from wide; the Union winger needing no invitation to level from close range (75’). The hosts almost followed up with a another soon after, but Gikiewicz was well positioned on the post to deny Lenz (79’).
The equaliser and chance proved a wake-up call for FCA, who in turn responded perfectly. Just like the first goal, a cross from wide headed in from close range, this time Iago finding Gregoritsch. 2-1 after 82 minutes. But Herrlich’s men weren’t satisfied with a nervy finish and, after a fine stop from Gikiwicz at one end, finished the game with a goal at the other – André Hahn nutmegging Andreas Luthe for 3-1 (89’).
Next, FCA welcome last season’s runners up Borussia Dortmund at home on Saturday, 26th September (15:30 CEST).