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Last-gasp heartbreak in turbulent final home match against Hertha
On the penultimate matchday of the Bundesliga season, FC Augsburg have fallen to a last-gasp heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to home to Hertha BSC. In a turbulent and thrilling match, FCA led on three occasions before Hertha were awarded a contentious penalty in the second minute of second half stoppage time. Salomon Kalou stepped up to convert and break Augsburg hearts .
For the final home match of the season, FCA head coach Martin Schmidt made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 away against FC Schalke 04 last Sunday. Reece Oxford, Jan Moravek, Georg Teigl and Marco Richter all came into the starting lineup. Rani Khedira missed the match with Hertha due to muscle problems while Kostas Stafylidis, Michael Gregoritsch and Julian Schieber all dropped to the bench. Unlike last Sunday in Gelsenkirchen, where the Fuggerstädter started the match very slowly and invited pressure, it was the home side who started as the stronger side. With only three minutes on the clock, Georg Teigl thought he had opened the scoring as he headed the ball over the helpless Thomas Kraft. However, Teigl was in an offside position and the goal was disallowed. Just seven minutes, Augsburg made their early pressure count and took the lead. André Hahn was given room to run through the Blue-White defence and fire a shot from long distance beyond Kraft (10’). In fact, the Hertha goalkeeper didn’t even move as Hahn scored his fourth goal of the season. After taking the lead, FCA sat back and Hertha enjoyed more of the possession. Despite creating numerous chances to draw level, the club from the capital were unable to find a way past Gregor Kobel. However, the Swiss U21s goalkeeper was forced into action to make several superbs save. The closest Hertha came to equalising in the first half came in the 38th minute as Luka Klünter was denied by a strong Kobel save. Towards the end of the first period, Augsburg defended well but failed to create any more clear chances to build on their one goal advantage.
Plattenhardt draws Hertha level – Ice cool Gregoritsch restores advantage almost immediately
The second half began in turbulent fashion as Augsburg’s lead disappeared within two minutes of the restart. After the Fuggerstädter were able to clear a corner, Ondrej Duda fired a shot onto the far post and the rebound fell to Marvin Plattenhardt. The full-back beat Kobel at his near post to draw the Berlin club level (47’). However, the visitors would only be level for three minutes as Augsburg restored their advantage. Referee Guido Winkmann pointed to the penalty spot as Karim Rekik deflected a Teigl shot using his arm. Substitute Michael Gregoritsch stepped up to send Kraft the wrong way and score his 20th Augsburg goal (50’). As was the case after going 1-0 ahead, the home side dropped in the minutes after retaking the lead. Hertha continued to enjoy more possession, dominate the midfield and create more chances as they went in search of another equaliser. Duda was denied from a tight angle by Kobel (59’) before the Slovakian fired a shot narrowly wide of the far post (61’). However, in the 66th minute, Hertha were rewarded for their pressure as they equalised for the second time. Marko Grujic rose highest from a Valentino Lazaro corner to head into the corner of the net (66’).
Gregoritsch seals brace to give FCA 3-2 lead – Kalou ensures late hearthbreak
Augsburg responded to this second setback by pushing further up the pitch in search of a third goal. Just four minutes after Grujic’s equaliser, the hosts scored yet again to go back in front. Gregoritsch was played in clear on the near side of the penalty area and the Austrian slotted home to seal his brace (70’). The 3-2 lead didn’t last for long, however. After a corner was blocked, Lazaro fired a cross into the box and found Salomon Kalou. The Ivorian headed home to set up a grandstand finish with the two teams level at 3-3 (76’). Just when the points looked to have been shared in this thrilling match, Hertha delivered one final blow to send all three points back to Berlin. Winkmann pointed to the penalty spot for the second time as Reece Oxford was adjudged to have clipped Blue-Whites substitute Pascal Köpke in the box. Kalou stepped up, gave Kobel no chance and sent the away fans into jubilation (90+4’). Despite taking the lead on three separate occasions, Augsburg end their final home match of the season empty handed. Martin Schmidt’s side travel to VfL Wolfsburg next Saturday (15:30 CEST) to conclude the 2018/19 Bundesliga season.
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