FC Augsburg have secured three precious points in the battle against relegation in the Bundesliga. Augsburg ended a ten match winless run at home against 1. FSV Mainz 05, securing a 3-0 win on Sunday afternoon. Alfred Finnbogason scored a hat-trick to fire FCA to victory.
FCA head coach Manuel Baum made two changes to the side that fell to a 2-0 defeat away at Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend. Dong-Won Ji returned to the side following South Korea’s exit from the Asia Cup. Michael Gregoritsch also returned to the starting lineup as Philipp Max dropped to the bench. Rani Khedira played at centre-back in place of Martin Hinteregger, who joined Eintracht Frankfurt on loan for the remainder of the season. New signing Reece Oxford, who joined FCA on loan from West Ham United on Thursday, was on the bench.
In snowy conditions, Augsburg made the better start and were awarded a penalty in the eighth minute. Ji broke down the left wing and created space for a cross, which struck Daniel Brosinski’s arm. Alfred Finnbogason stepped up to take the penalty and sent Mainz goalkeeper Florian Müller the wrong way to give the hosts the lead (8’). FCA started to settle whilst protecting their lead. The newly formed defence stood firm and was well organised. The 05ers couldn’t find any way through and Gregor Kobel was kept quite quiet. The hosts went in search of doubling their lead but lacked the final pass necessary to score. André Hahn came closest to scoring for the hosts as neither side could carve open any clear opportunities (12’).
Another penalty, ice cool Finnbogason converts once more
FC Augsburg were dangerous once more after the half hour mark. After good link up play with Finnbogason, Michael Gregoritsch broke clear towards goal. However, the Austrian was unable to beat Müller at his near post (32’). A corner was awarded and this led to a second penalty being awarded to FCA. Moussa Niakhaté was found guilty of handball following a Kevin Danso header and the Video Assistant Referee confirmed the decision. Finnbogason stepped out once more and the Icelandic striker fired the ball into the left corner of the net to give FCA a 2-0 lead (34’). Müller managed to get a hand to the second penalty but couldn’t keep the ball out.
Augsburg continued to attack and try to put the match to bed before half time. Müller was forced to tip a deflected André Hahn cross over his own bar as all of the action centered around the Mainz box. Finnbogason was denied a first half hat-trick in the dying seconds before half-time. Kostas Stafylidis played the striker in and he was only denied by a flying save by Müller (45+3’).
Perfect counter attack: Finnbogason completes his hat-trick
After half-time, Mainz started to attack more and came back into the match. However, the 05ers regularly lost possession and this left them vulnerable to the counter attack. Augsburg completed the perfect counter attack in the 54th minute as Gregoritsch broke clear before playing in Jan Moravek and then Finnbogason, who sealed his hat-trick with a clever shot using the outside of the foot. FCA could’ve extended their lead even further shortly after the match but lacked the final precision needed to score.
The visitors didn’t offer much in attack and Augsburg continued to put pressure on their defence. Müller was forced into action once more to deny Jonathan Schmid from a free-kick (66’). There were few chances in the final twenty minutes of the match, although substitute Sergio Córdova was given a golden opportunity to score a fourth FCA goal. The Venezuelan pounced on a Alexander Hack mistake but was unable to curl the ball beyond Müller into the Mainz goal (78’). Alexandru Maxim created a late chance for Mainz, dragging his shot narrowly wide of the far post (89’).
FC Augsburg secured their second home win of the season and celebrated securing three precious points in the battle to avoid relegation. FCA return to action in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday night away against 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel (18:30 CET). FCA travel to Werder Bremen next Sunday (15:30 CET) for their next Bundesliga match.