Niederlechner scores a brilliant brace
FC Augsburg travelled to current surprise package 1. FC Union Berlin on matchday 14 of the 2022/23 Bundesliga season. It quickly developed into an end-to-end match on Wednesday evening, and it ended 2-2 between the sides.
FCA head coach Enrico Maaßen made three changes to the side that narrowly lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt just four days ago. After serving his suspension, Elvis Rexhbecaj returned to the centre of midfield, and Robert Gumny and Ruben Vargas also came back into the starting XI. Mads Pedersen wasn’t part of the matchday squad due to a thigh issue.
Augsburg went into the game at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei with high hopes and put their hosts under pressure. However, third-placed Union wanted to avenge their 5-0 defeat in Leverkusen last weekend, meaning both sides got straight down to business. Shortly after a Maximilian Bauer header flew by the goal (4’), the home side took an early lead through Sheraldo Becker. The Dutchman took the ball past the on-rushing Rafał Gikiewicz and slotted the ball home from a tight angle to make it 1-0 (8’).
However, their lead only lasted 80 seconds, as FCA responded immediately. Vargas somehow managed to poke it through to Florian Niederlechner despite being on the floor, and Niederlechner shot past Union keeper Lennart Grill on the turn from 12 yards out (11’). Right-back Gumny then came close to a second for FCA, as he flicked on Berisha’s corner onto the crossbar (13’). Instead, the third goal of the night would fall to Union when Kevin Behrens headed Gießelmann’s free kick into the back of the net from close range for 2-1 (22’).
Therefore, Augsburg had to work their way back into the game once again, as former Freiburg player Janik Haberer missed two headed chances to score the home side’s third (25’/28’). Berisha then picked up an injury to his right thigh, forcing Maaßen into a change. However, he didn’t just bring on Fredrik Jensen, but also Felix Uduokhai, who replaced Bauer in central defence after he picked up a yellow card (32’). FCA managed to draw level for a second time before the break. Ermedin Demirović hit the bar from distance, then Niederlechner acrobatically levelled the scores on the rebound (39’). The 32-year-old got his second of the night, and despite going on to take a knock to his left knee, he was fortunately able to continue.
The second half got underway with a Gießelmann effort rattling the bar, before Union’s skipper Rani Khedira, who made a total of 119 competitive appearances for Augsburg, went down in the area (48’). Referee Sascha Stegemann chose not to point to the spot. The hosts carried on applying the pressure, but Augsburg’s defensive resistance was strong. Arne Maier and Lukas Petrov became two more pairs of fresh legs after the hour mark (65’), but it was once again Behrens who struck the woodwork, this time from Paul Seguin’s pass – another little bit of luck for Maaßen’s side!
FCA looked to strengthen the defence once more with Reece Oxford’s introduction (77’). This paid off for the visitors as Ryerson’s flick found the wrong side of the post (85’), but it got a bit nervy in added time after some pinball in the penalty area involving Sven Michel and Morten Thorsby didn’t end up with a goal (90’+1). The final whistle followed shortly at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei, where the Fuggerstädter were then able to celebrate a well-deserved, hard-fought point away from home.
Augsburg now sit 14th in the table with 15 points. The final game of the year will see FCA welcome VfL Bochum to the WWK Arena on Saturday, 14th November (15:30 CET).