New FC Augsburg head coach Martin Schmidt has secured the perfect birthday present: a debut victory with the Fuggerstädter. Augsburg secured three vital points in the battle against Bundesliga relegation with a 3-1 away win against Eintracht Frankfurt. Marco Richter’s first half brace put the visitors on course to their first away victory since October 2018. After the Eagles were reduced to ten men, Michael Gregoritsch wrapped up the victory late on to put FCA seven points clear of the relegation play-off.
After Manuel Baum was relieved of his duties as Augsburg head coach on Wednesday, the 52-year-old Swiss coach was appointed to lead the Fuggerstädter. In his first match in charge, Schmidt made four changes to the side that fell to a 4-0 home defeat against TSG Hoffenheim last Sunday. Rani Khedira, Kostas Stafylidis, André Hahn and Alfred Finnbogason all came in to the starting lineup. Reece Oxford and Kevin Danso both dropped to the bench while Philipp Max and Dong-Won Ji missed the trip to Frankfurt with injury.
Paciencia heads Frankfurt into early lead – FCA shout for a penalty
In the opening exchanges, FCA were stable and tried to exploit any room on the pitch given to them by Frankfurt. However, it was the hosts who created the early chances. Luka Jovic fired a header over the bar (4’) before the Serbian was denied just a minute later by a fine Gregor Kobel save (5’). After a quarter of an hour, Frankfurt made the breakthrough their early pressure deserved. Augsburg lost possession in opposition territory and were punished as Filip Kostic’s cross was met by Goncalo Paciencia and his fired a header home (14’).
Despite falling behind, Augsburg didn’t lose their heads nor mentality. Three minutes after conceding, the visitors felt they should’ve been given a penalty. Marco Richter and Almamy Touré colided in the Frankfurt penalty area but referee Bastian Dankert allowed play to continue. After this dubious decision, Augsburg started to attack with more endeavour and pushed further up the pitch. However, FCA were missing the final crucial piece of precision needed to carve out a clear chance to equaliser. At the other end, the visitors were fortunate not to fall two goals behind as Paciencia failed to provide the right connection to hit the ball home (30’).
Richter equalises before turning match around
After half an hour, FCA created their first clear cut chance of the match and drew level. Michael Gregoritsch found Richter on the right side of the penalty area and the Germany U21s international slid the ball into the far corner to put Augsburg on level terms (31’). Following the equaliser, most of the play took place between the two penalty areas as both terms looked to defend their goal. Gregor Kobel suffered a nasty head injury in the closing stages of the first and Andreas Luthe replaced him between the sticks (40’). FCA were the stronger side defensively at this point.
In first half stoppage time, the match turned in Augsburg’s favour as they secured a half-time lead. Gregoritsch was denied from long-range by Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp (45+2’) before Ja-Cheol Koo fed Richter once more. The winger fired a shot beyond Trapp’s reach into the far corner from outside the penalty area to put FCA 2-1 ahead at the break (45+4’). Richter’s brace were his first goals of the season.
Fernandes sent off – Koo misses chance to seal victory
The hopes of an away win for the travelling Augsburg fans received a boost just two minutes into the second half. Gelson Fernandes was sent off for a second bookable offence after a nasty challenge on Jonathan Schmid. For just over 40 minutes, FCA had a man advantage to close out the match.
The Fuggerstädter used the extra man to their advantage as they pressed for a third goal while Frankfurt found it difficult to build pressure. FCA enjoyed success on the counter but couldn’t convert any of their chances to give themselves a two goal cushion. The best chance fell to Kooas the ball fell kindly for the Korean after Richter was denied a hat-trick by Trapp. However, Koo’s header was cleared on the line by Makoto Hasebe (58’). Richter also fired a shot narrowly wide (68’) while Luthe was forced into his first big save to deny a Jovic header (60’)
Khedira blocks two goal-bound Frankfurt shots – Gregoritsch seals the victory
In the final 20 minutes, Frankfurt increased the amount of pressure on the Augsburg as they searched for an equaliser. Despite the Eagles failing to create many clear chances to score, Khedira was forced into action twice to deny Ante Rebic (70’) and Jovic at the final second (76’). With six minutes to go, FCA put the match beyond the reach of Frankfurt with a third goal on the counter. After good hold-up play from substitute Julian Schieber, Richter broke into the penalty area and cut the ball back to Daniel Baier. The Augsburg captain then played in Gregoritsch who curled the ball home to give FCA a 3-1 lead (84’). Kostic and Jovic both created good chances to halve the deficit in the 88th and 92nd minutes respectively but FCA held on for their first away win since October 2018.
Martin Schmidt’s have moved seven points clear of VfB Stuttgart in the relegation play-off place. The two sides meet on Easter Saturday (15:30 CEST) as FCA look to secure Bundesliga safety.