FC Augsburg beat 1. FC Köln 2-1 at home thanks to a Martin Hinteregger header and a penalty from Paul Verhaegh in what could be a crucial victory in the Bundesliga relegation battle. Köln managed to pull one back through Frederik Sörensen and despite the Fuggerstädter finishing the afternoon with nine men, Baum’s side held on to take on all three points.
Martin Hinteregger was back in the side after his suspension, while Jonathan Schmid, Halil Altintop and Takashi Usami also made their returns to the starting XI. Christoph Janker, Georg Teigl, Dominik Kohr and Dong-Won Ji were on the bench to begin with.
Augsburg looked sharp right from kick-off, loudly cheered on by a vociferous home crowd. A long ball from Daniel Baier landed beautifully at the feet of Alfred Finnbogason who beat two Köln defenders but the Iceland international could not find the target with his subsequent effort. However Martin Hinteregger’s header from the resultant corner powered in to fire Augsburg into an early and deserved lead.
The Rheinländer almost hit FCA with an immediate response. The ball flew into the Augsburg box with huge pace but Yuya Osaka somehow failed to connect from point-blank range. A stroke of luck Hitz and the Augsburg defence. Hinteregger rose up again in the 13th minute but his header was straight at Köln keeper Horn.
FCA were given a golden opportunity to double their tally when Frederik Sörensen brought down Kevin Danso inside the box and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Captain Paul Verhaegh stepped up and coolly converted, sending the keeper the wrong way. Köln rarely looked dangerous as Augsburg were in cruise control.
The Fuggerstädter continued to play some sublime football and a neat move from Altintop set up Schmid exquisitely for a volley on the edge of the box. Despite connecting with it cleanly, the German’s effort was comfortably saved by Horn. A poor half for Sörensen was compounded by his poorly-timed backward header past his own keeper. Luckily for him his effort only resulted in a corner and not a third for FCA.
Augsburg started the second half much deeper and allowed the away side to have more possession of the ball but Hitz and his back four initially had no problems. However it was yet another set-piece in the 65th minute that gave Köln a lifeline as Sörensen made up for his earlier errors by firing into Philipp Max, who was unfortunate to direct it into his own net.
It would prove be a very tense finish at the WWK ARENA and that was not just because of the inevitable pressure Köln placed on Augsburg in the final minutes of the game. First, Ja-Cheol Koo was sent off after picking up his second yellow of the afternoon, and then Finnbogason was also sent packing in added time. Yet FCA did not succumb to the tidal wave of Köln attacks and held on to claim a vital three points. The only sour note of the afternoon was that Koo had to be stretchered off after his red card due to injury.