Berisha’s penalty not enough
FC Augsburg travelled to the new home SC Freiburg, the Europa-Park Stadion, for their first game of the second half of the season. Whilst FCA fashioned themselves several good chances, the hosts proved to be more efficient in front of goal and picked up a 3-1 victory.
FCA head coach Enrico Maaßen named the same XI who beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 in midweek. It was their first time playing at the Europa-Park Stadion after the home side made the move from the old Dreisamstadion at the beginning of last season.
Both teams made a brave start to the game, with FCA looking to play directly and to get the ball into Freiburg’s penalty box. The home side withstood the early pressure and looked to hit back on the counter, an attack which ended with Lucas Höler’s fierce shot being strongly saved by Rafał Gikiewicz (3’). The opening exchanges were certainly intense – whilst Augsburg struggled to create a real opportunity, SCF were able to make some chances for themselves. Former FCA player Michael Gregoritsch found himself on the left side of the Augsburg penalty box, and he let fly from an acute angle, with his shot storming in via the inside of the far post, giving the hosts the lead (13’).
FCA’s equaliser came in the 27th minute. Dion Beljo played it to Ermedin Demirović, who was then brought down at the edge of the penalty box by Freiburg’s Lukas Kübler, giving referee Christian Dingert no option but to point to the spot. Mergim Berisha stepped up and coolly placed it down the middle and into the back of the net (29’). However, SCF posted a swift reply. Gregoritsch flicked a long ball into the path of Ritsu Doan, who squared it into Höler to tap home for 2-1 (30’).
After Gikiewicz made a strong save with his right knee to deny Gregoritsch (39'), FCA had a chance to equalise once again. Beljo crossed it into Berisha whose header went just wide of the target (41’). Maaßen’s side had two further opportunities in the first half. Firstly, captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw’s effort was too central to pose a problem for SCF keeper Mark Flekken (44’), and then just a minute later, Berisha tried again and narrowly shot wide.
There were no changes to the side at half time, as Maaßen’s side continued to push forward in search of a second equaliser, whilst SCF initially focused on trying to counter, which ultimately led to a good chance for them. Doan’s sharp cross was punched out by Gikiewicz, but it only got as far as Sildillia, who set himself up to shoot. Deflecting off Mads Pedersen’s thigh, the ball cannoned onto the post in what was a threatening moment for FCA (59’).
The visitors also caused their opponents problems in the second half. Berisha’s headed effort just sailed over the bar (64’), and the introduction of substitute Kelvin Yeboah added some more pace to the FCA attack. Yeboah was involved in the creation of two decent chances. In the 77th minute, he crossed it into the six-yard where Berisha was waiting, but Kübler got a head to the ball first. Shortly after, our new signing had a go on goal himself. Demirović, who received a yellow card in the game meaning he is suspended for our next match against Leverkusen, was stood in the centre and tried to divert the ball towards goal, but Flekken was on hand to keep out the effort (81’).
That was Augsburg’s big chance to equalise, and to make matters worse, SCF went up the other end and scored their third. Second-half substitute Vincenzo Grifo’s cross was headed in by Lienhart past a helpless Gikiewicz. SCF almost got a fourth after Christian Günter squared it to Wooyeong Jeong, but his effort was kept out by the foot of Gikiewicz (87’). No further goals came in the four minutes of injury time, and the full-time whistle was blown.
The defeat leaves FCA in 14th place in the league. Next Friday (3rd February, 20:30 CET), they welcome Bayer 04 Leverkusen to the WWK ARENA.