FC Augsburg came out on the losing end of a closely fought encounter against Schalke 04 on Wednesday evening (3-2). Franco di Santo (44’), Guido Burgstaller (47’) and Daniel Caliguri (83’ pen.) scored the goals for the home side, while Caiuby (64’) and Michael Gregoritsch (79’) were the only FCA goalscorers despite a wild final few minutes.
FCA head coach Manuel Baum made two changes to the side who drew 1-1 against Hertha BSC at home. Raphael Framberger and Marcel Heller were replaced by Kevin Danso and Daniel Opare. Philipp Max also made his return to his previous club to face the Royal Blues.
The home side had a golden chance to open the scoring in the opening few minutes: Weston McKennie tried to get on the end of a deflected cross from Guido Burgstaller from point blank range, although he couldn’t connect cleanly. At the other end of the pitch, Michael Gregoritsch tested Ralf Fährmann from 30 metres out, but his teammates failed to capitalise on the parried shot. FCA defended well the majority of the time, and made it difficult for Schalke to get anything going.
Immediate response from the Royal Blues
Schalke did eventually take control of the game, however, when Franco di Santo finished off a lovely bit of build-up play from Amine Harit with a cheeky back heel (44’). They would the lead into the half time break.
Schalke took this momentum into the second half, as they came out of the gate much quicker than their opponents. Marwin Hitz was immediately called into action to parry a shot from Bastian Oczipka from short range, although the ball still went out for a corner. The resulting set-piece found the head of Naldo, who flicked it on to Burgstaller at the back post to smash it into the net and double the Schalke lead (47’).
However, FCA didn’t back down from the challenge of pulling themselves back from the two-goal deficit. Ja-Cheol Koo had a huge double-chance in the 54th minute, although Ralf Fährmann was there to deny the South Korean both times. Only five minutes later, Alfred Finnbogason found himself alone in front of the Schalke goal, but his last touch was a bit too heavy and he lost control of the ball. After a corner from Philipp Max, Caiuby rose the highest to head in a deserved goal for FCA and finally get something to show for their efforts (64’).
Two penalties in the closing stages
Augsburg than pushed for the equaliser, which Koo almost managed to score. Naldo was there at the last moment to block his shot though (66’). Michael gregoritsch had a big chance of his own when he found himself alone in front of goal in the penalty area, but he was hauled down from behind cynically. The referee made the initial decision to let it go, although after further consultation with the video assistant, he reversed his decision. Gregoritsch would make no mistake from the spot to level the scores (79’).
However, the luck was not on the side of FCA this time out. After a bit of contact between Hitz and Amine Harit, the referee awarded Schalke a penalty of their own. Daniel Caligiuri stepped up to the spot and finished with aplomb into the bottom left corner to restore Schalke’s lead. Despite an action-packed last few minutes, FCA couldn’t pull it back for a second time and will travel back home empty handed.