Augsburg - was FC Augsburg’s hero after his brace took the Bavarians above 17th-placed 1899 Hoffenheim and to within three points of safety thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
The South Korea international struck in each half as Augsburg decided a one-sided game in their favour, even affording to miss a penalty through Jan-Inger Callsen-Bracker.
Augsburg started with a spring in their step, keen to reduce the arrears on 15th-placed Fortuna Düsseldorf to just three points. For all their good intentions, though, little tangible emerged from their bright start until rattled the crossbar, shaking his teammates into a more attacking mode.
Frankfurt then found themselves forced even further back into their own half with Ji twice going close, before the loanee striker gave the hosts a deserved lead at the third time of asking with a shot which took a telling deflection off to leave Frankfurt’s veteran goalkeeper no chance.
Frankfurt’s day took a turn for the worse shortly afterwards when their top goalscorer was forced to leave the field with an injury, and it started to look increasingly bleak when Verhaegh was felled inside the penalty area by Takashi Inui. It was Augsburg’s first penalty of the season and stepped up for his third penalty attempt in the Bundesliga, missing for the first time as he skied the ball over the bar.
It was a let-off for Frankfurt, and more were to follow as the marauding Ji went close to doubling the home side’s lead several times before the interval. The next scoring opportunity came moments into the second half when Sascha Mölders shot harmlessly wide with only Nikolov to beat.
Ji at the double
The number of Augsburg chances kept growing, as did the proportion of those wasted, until Ji settled their nerves with a second goal. Like with the first, Jan Moravek was the provider with only his second assist of the season, teeing up the South Korean to pick his spot low into the far corner beyond the reach of Nikolov.
Victory was assured, but Augsburg continued to attack as Frankfurt appeared to shut up shop, resigned to their fate. With five games of the season remaining, they still occupy sixth place, but Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hamburger SV and 1. FSV Mainz 05 are all within striking distance, just as Augsburg now are of safety, having picked up twice as many points in 2013 (18) as they did in the whole of the first half of the season.
Line-ups and statistics