Despite trailing at the break, FC Augsburg have secured a vital victory in the battle against Bundesliga relegation. Visitors Hannover 96 took an early lead but an impressive second half performance saw FCA run out 3-1 winners.
The hosts made four changes to the side that secured an impressive goalless draw in Leipzig last weekend. FCA head coach Manuel welcomed back André Hahn (missed the trip to Leipzig with suspension), Dong-Won Ji (recovered from a muscle problem) and Alfred Finnbogason (calf problem) to the starting lineup. Georgl Teigl, Fredrik Jensen and Sergio Córdova all dropped to the bench. Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, who has not featured since the 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg in December, also returned to the squad on the bench. Michael Gregoritsch missed the match with illness and was replaced by Marco Richter.
In the opening stages, FCA were on the front foot and tried to open the scoring. However, the hosts fell behind after just eight minutes. Augsburg goalkeeper Gregor Kobel was caught in no-man’s-land after failing to clear a long ball. Rani Khedira and Kevin Danso then managed to deny Linton Maina’s shot before the rebound fell to Hendrik Weydandt. The striker headed the ball over the Augsburg defence and the helpless Kobel into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Finnbogason and Co. fail to take chances to equalise
FCA almost responded immediately with an equaliser of their own in the 11th minute. However, Ji was unable to slot the ball home after good build up play. At the other end, Weydandt very nearly sealed an early brace but he was denied by a smart save from Kobel at his near post (12’). Relying on their one goal advantage, Hannover opted to sit back and retreat into their own half. This invited FCA to come forward and try to draw level. The hosts failed to create any further clear chances to equalise until the 21st minute. In the space of just a few seconds, Finnbogason, Hahn and Ji were all denied a goal by the Hannover defence and there were some appeals for an Augsburg penalty.
Augsburg failed to create many more chances beyond the half hour mark and in the remainder of the first half. This was due to the FCA attack making mistakes with the final pass. Ji did create another chance on the counter but fired his shot narrowly wide (34’) before Jonathan Schmid had a go from long range (43’). Hannover remained dangerous themselves as the first half came to a conclusion. Jonathas created two good chances to score in the 38th and 40th minutes but was unable to take them. The visitors carried their narrow 1-0 away lead into the half-time.
Substitute Córdova equalises – Free-kick specialist Schmid stuns Hannover
Just a few minutes after the second half began, FCA were fortunate not to fall two goals behind. Genki Haraguchi fired a free-kick from twenty metres out onto the Augsburg crossbar (52’). After this scare, the hosts attacked with more intensity as they looked to get back into the match. Richter was denied by a fine save from Hannover goalkeeper Michael Esser (53’) before Kevin Danso’s header was palmed away by the visitor’s last line of defence (55’). Richter had another chance which went begging (61’) before the hosts finally equalised. The Hannover defence couldn’t clear a Philipp Max corner before Esser once again denied Danso. However, the goalkeeper couldn’t do anything about substituted Sergio Córdova’s toepoke which went over the line (65’).
After drawing level, FCA dominated the match as they went in search of turning the scoresheet around and securing three precious points. Ji had another chance to score a deserved goal but his header went over the bar after good work from Hahn (75’). The hosts only had to wait three more minutes before they did score a deserved second. Jonathan Schmid curled a stunning free-kick into the near post from around 20 metres out and FCA had the lead with just eleven minutes to go (79’). Hannover were not down and ut just yet as Miiko Albornoz tested Kobel from distance. However, with just four minutes to go, FCA sealed all three points with a third goal. A strong run from Danso set up Hahn and Esser was unable to keep the fierce shot out of the goal (86’). Jonathas did have one last chance to create a grandstand finish (90’) but FCA held on.
FCA have secured their second consecutive home victory and are now unbeaten in three matches. They are now eleven points clear of Hannover and the automatic relegation zone with Stuttgart five points behind in the relegation play-off place. After the upcoming international break, FCA return to action away against fellow strugglers 1. FC Nürnberg on Saturday, 30th March (15:30 CET).