Ingolstadt battled back from two goals down to prevail as 3-2 victors against relegation rivals Darmstadt in an enthralling encounter in Matchday 28's curtain-closer.
Perhaps buoyed by losses from Mainz and Augsburg earlier in the weekend, Ingolstadt began the match aggressively. Pascal Groß put the hosts in front in the 20th minute, capping off a well-worked counter, and FCI continued to press forward. The visitors found an unexpected answer, however, when Mario Vrancic lashed a shot into the bottom corner a quarter of an hour later. And on 39 minutes, Darmstadt went up 2-1 after Vrancic converted a penalty won by Antonio Colak.
Undaunted, Ingolstadt stayed on the front foot after the interval and saw their effort rewarded in the 68th minute. Almog Cohen, so crucial to their recent run of results, was the goalscorer again - his seventh of the season. Markus Suttner then put Die Schanzer in front with a direct free kick four minutes later. With three minutes left, Romain Bregerie saw red - as did Colak when he picked up a second yellow.
Man of the match
After a brace to lead Ingolstadt to a win in Augsburg last time out, Cohen was again instrumental in helping his team pick up three crucial points. He set up Groß for the opener and scored a scrappy goal to bring them level in the second half. It’s clear the Israel international is relishing his offensive role: he had the second-most shots (four) of all players on the day.
Knowing victory would lift them to within a point of Augsburg and Mainz, Ingolstadt had everything to play for, so it was puzzling to see them surrender two goals in quick succession and go down 2-1 in the first half. Their late fightback showed grit, however, and will give them a real boost as their hunt to stay in the league continues.
- Ingolstadt have now won three matches in a row for the first time in their Bundesliga history.
- Even despite the defeat, Darmstadt still mathematically have a chance of staying up.
- Vrancic last struck a brace back in 2012, playing for Paderborn against Bochum in Bundesliga 2.
Ingolstadt: Hansen – Matip, Roger (Morales, 60'), Bregerie – Tisserand, Groß, Cohen, Suttner – Leckie, Lezcano (Hinterseer, 90'), Kittel (Jung, 89')
Coach: Maik Walpurgis
Darmstadt: Esser – Steinhöfer, Höhn, Sulu, Holland – Altintop, Kamavuaka (Schipplock, 81') – Sirigu, Vrancic (Guwara , 71'), Platte (Rosenthal, 62') - Colak
Coach: Torsten Frings