Bundesliga basement boys Greuther Fürth were denied a rare top-flight win after veteran Gonzalo Castro's 83rd minute leveller rescued Arminia Bielefeld in a dramatic contest.
Arminia Bielefeld 2-2 Greuther Fürth
Goals: 1-0 Okugawa 8' (assist: Krüger), 1-1 Leweling 35' (assist: Hrgota), 1-2 Nielsen 67' (assist: Seguin), 2-2 Castro 83'
Much of the talk in the build-up to this Matchday 19 encounter had been around Masaya Okugawa, the gifted Japanese having netted in each of Bielefeld's three previous games. True to form, the 25-year-old was quickly celebrating his seventh goal of the campaign here after the twinkle-toed midfielder danced past two Fürth defenders before applying a cool finish. In an increasingly perilous position at the bottom of the standings, the visitors had at least picked up two points with two scoreless draws either side of New Year. Another note of optimism was sounded for Stefan Leitl's side in this game when the Clover Leaves scored for the first time in 338 minutes, Jamie Leweling muscling past Andres Andrade and tucking a shot past goalkeeper Stefan Ortega for 1-1.
Fürth had managed just one win all season going into this game, but their first-half exploits at the Bielefelder Alm raised hopes of a second success. Timothy Tillman's free-kick looking all but in until Ortega's crucial intervention, the basement boys had posted a warning of what was soon to come. Bielefeld wrestled back control thereafter, but were left stunned when substitute Havard Nielsen - on the pitch for 30 seconds - headed Paul Seguin's lifted cross in off defender Cedric Brunner. Anticipation of gaining a valuable three points building on the visiting bench, it was another substitute that would burst Fürth's bubble as the game entered its closing stages. Bundesliga veteran Gonzalo Castro has hit many a memorable goal in a distinguished Bundesliga career, and his stunning long-range strike to bring parity to this enthralling contest will rank high among them as he made a mark for his new club.
- Castro scored his 38th goal in his 411th Bundesliga game; the 34-year-old has now scored for four different clubs (Bielefeld, Stuttgart, Dortmund and Leverkusen).
- Okugawa is Bielefeld's top scorer with seven strikes, ahead of Klos (three). The Japanese has scored in each of his last four.
- Fürth's concession after eight minutes was the 50th top-flight goal they have shipped this season.
- Leweling's first-half equaliser was his 4th goal of the season, matching his tally in two previous second division campaigns combined.
- Seguin provided his first assist of this Bundesliga season.
- Only Fürth have collected fewer points at home this season (six) than Bielefeld (nine).
- The Clovers Leaves haven't won away in the Bundesliga in 11 matches, dating back to a 2-0 triumph at Stuttgart on Matchday 32 of the 2012/13 campaign.
Watch: Castro discusses his return after six months without a club
Bielefeld: Ortega (c) – Brunner (Ramos 83’), Pieper, Nilsson, Andrade – Schöpf (Castro 75’), Vasiliadis (Prietl 62’) – Wimmer (Hack 63’), Okugawa, Krüger (Serra 75’) – Lasme
Unused subs: Kapino, Laursen, Kunze, Fernandes
Out: De Medina (illness), Klos (suspended)
Coach: Frank Kramer
Furth: Burchert – Meyerhöfer, Griesbeck, Viergever, Itter (Willems 66’) – Seguin, Christiansen, Tillman (Asta 90’+4) – Dudziak (Nielsen 66’) – Leweling (Bauer 81’), Hrgota (c) (Pululu 81’)
Unused subs: Linde, Abiama, Barry, Green
Out: Funk (knee), Hoogma (not included), Jung (match fitness), Kehr (knee), Ngankam (knee)
Coach: Stefan Leitl