FC Augsburg and Liverpool FC played out an entertaining goalless draw in their UEFA Europa League last 32 first leg on Thursday.
On Jürgen Klopp’s return to Germany since stepping down as Borussia Dortmund coach last summer, the Stuttgart native saw his side well-matched by a disciplined Augsburg outfit, with the tie firmly in the balance ahead of next week’s second leg.
Billed as the biggest game in Augsburg’s history, the home side rose to the occasion admirably in the first half, bossing possession in the opening stages and snapping into the tackles to put the English side under pressure. Liverpool had come into the game on the back of a 6-0 victory last weekend, but they showed little in the way of attacking incision, and should actually have been behind at the break. Alexander Esswein collected Caiuby’s pass and twisted his defender inside out, but could only shoot straight at Reds’ keeper Simon Mignolet.
Augsburg’s attack had been blunted early on by the withdrawal of Raul Bobadilla due to injury, and in the second period, the visitors slowly grew in confidence. Daniel Sturridge could not provide a telling touch to James Milner’s cross, before Marwin Hitz gratefully claimed the loose ball on the goalline after some ping pong in the six-yard box at a free-kick. The hosts might have won it, with Konstantinos Stafylidis prodding a half volley wide and Dong-Won Ji striking the outside of the post, but Markus Weinzierl will be content with a solid display ahead of next week’s return game at Anfield, with the small matter of a trip to bottom club Hannover 96 on Sunday sandwiched in between.
Man of the match
Liverpool were shackled for much of the evening, and much of that was down to the tenacity of Dominik Kohr. The 22-year-old covered every blade of grass on the pitch and joined in attacks when he could. He received a booking for a trip on Roberto Firmino – once of TSG 199 Hoffenheim – but will be available next Thursday and should relish the opportunity of playing at Anfield.
Augsburg: Hitz – Verhaegh (c), Janker, Klavan, Stafylidis – Feulner, Kohr – Esswein, Altintop (Koo 87’), Werner (Ji 80’) – Bobadilla (Caiuby 23’)
Liverpool: Mignolet – Clyne, Toure, Sakho, Moreno – Can, Henderson, Milner (Ibe 81’) – Coutinho, Sturridge (Origi 68’), Firmino