Düsseldorf – FC Augsburg survived a late fightback from Fortuna Düsseldorf to claim a nervy 3-2 away win at the ESPRIT Arena.
Promising start for Augsburg
The Bavarians dominated the first half and went in front six minutes before the break when Sascha Mölders stole in to tap home. South Korean international Ja-Cheol Koo then added a quick-fire second, before a second from Mölders. Fortuna striker Stefan Reisinger struck twice in the final stages to set up a tense finale, but Markus Weinzierl’s men held on.
Languishing second from bottom in the table, there was arguably more of an onus on Augsburg to win this game rather than their hosts, who began the game eight points clear of the relegation play-off places. That perhaps explained Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl's decision to start both Koo and his countryman Dong-Won Ji behind lone striker Mölders, and it was a formation that worked well for the away side in the early part of the game.
Koo was impressive with some neat touches in midfield and the service from wide areas was of high quality. The lively Mölders had an effort cleared off the line by Johannes van den Bergh and an instinctive header held by Fabian Giefer, while Daniel Baier volleyed over the bar. Fortuna, by contrast, were rather subdued. Robbie Kruse, so often a catalyst for them this season was barely involved, and the closest they came to scoring was a couple of harmless free kicks from Ken Ilsö.
Ji then announced himself in the game with a superb strike that Giefer did well to tip around the post, but Fortuna’s resistance was broken a minute later when Mölders capitalised on a calamitous error in defence to tap into an empty net, giving his side a 1-0 lead for only the fifth time this season. A lack of concentration at the back then afflicted the home side again, as a hopeful cross found Koo at the back post to double his side’s lead with a smart finish from the tightest of angles.
Düsseldorf coach Norbert Meier’s response at half time was to introduce Dani Schahin, whose brace had won the return fixture on the opening day of the season. He injected some much-needed energy into the home side’s game, but they still struggled to create clear openings, being restricted to shots from range. By contrast, Augsburg’s passing was slick and fluid and they continued to carry a goal threat, with Ji having a dangerous shot blocked.
Augsburg pressed for a third goal to kill off the game, and they were duly gifted it after yet another howler at the back for the hosts, as Mölders charged down Giefer’s kick, diverting the ball into the net. Reisinger pulled one back for the hosts with a close-range strike, but it did little to stem the flow of attacks from the men in white, as first Koo and then Ji went narrowly close to a fourth.
The goal gave the home side the lift they desperately needed and they mounted a sustained attack in the final ten minutes that almost rescued what would have been an undeserved draw. After a series of close calls, Reisinger then stabbed in a second on the 90th-minute mark, and then sensationally had a strike ruled out for an earlier foul in injury time. Conceding a third would have been harsh on Augsburg, though, after such a brave performance away from home, and they were just about able to seal their second win of the season.
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