FC Augsburg are truly unbeatable on Friday nights: the Fuggerstädter secured their third 1-0 win at the WWK Arena in a row, substitute Frederik Jensen netting the late winner against TSG Hoffenheim.
FCA head coach Enrico Maaßen made one change to the team which started the 3-1 defeat away in Mainz last weekend, as Kelvin Yeboah replaced Dion Beljo up front – it was Yeboah’s first start for the club, following five substitute appearances. Iago and Ruben Vargas also returned to the squad following their injuries, replacing the ill Niklas Dorsch, and Mads Pedersen, who had a knock.
Maaßen called for his side to show their presence, hunger for chances, and to be alert ahead of the game – his players carried out those orders to a T in the opening stages. Whilst the away side, who have taken just one point from five games since returning from the winter break, had control of the ball, FCA were the team on the attack. With just eight minutes on the clock, the net rippled as Arne Engels’ shot from the edge of the penalty area found the bottom corner – the goal was chalked off, however, as the ball hit the hand of the 19-year-old Belgian before he fired home.
Both teams did not shy away from tough tackles as the half went on, with referee Patrick Ittrich showing three yellow cards in the opening 45 minutes. There was little in terms of penalty area action, though – Hoffenheim left-back Angeliño’s cross narrowly evaded Pavel Kaderábek (33’), before a long-range effort from Elvis Rexhebecaj was dealt with easily by TSG ‘keeper Oliver Baumann. As the Augsburg fans’ chants grew louder, the half ended with a flurry of chances for the home side, the pick of which was a double-chance for Ermedin Demirović and Mergim Berisha – their efforts were blocked at the last minute, though (41’).
A second disallowed goal for FCA
Almost as soon as the second half got underway, the ball was in the back of Hoffenheim’s net once more, as Demirović forced the ball home on the rebound (48’). Once again, though, VAR was called into action, as Yeboah brushed his hand across the face of TSG defender Kevin Vogt before the ball fell to the goalscorer. After consulting the monitor, Ittrich yet again disallowed the goal and gave Hoffenheim a free-kick. A near-identical situation took place just 11 minutes later between Thomas Delaney and Demirović, and once more the VAR’s decision went against FCA – this time, no penalty was awarded (59’).
Despite these harsh decisions, Maaßen’s team did not let themselves be downhearted, continuing to push for the goal, spurred on by the 25,872 in attendance under the lights. Jensen, Beljo and Iago all came into the FCA side to give fresh impetus, as did Andrej Kramarić for Hoffenheim, who tested Rafał Gikiewicz from just inside the box (83’). It ended up being one of Maaßen’s substitutes who provided the much-celebrated winner for the home side: Engels’ corner was flicked on by Jeffrey Gouweleeuw to the back post, where Jensen stuck out a leg and tapped the ball over the line. The flag stayed down; the goal counted – 1-0 to Augsburg with just minutes to go! The six minutes’ added time offered little in the way of stress, and as the final whistle blew, FCA’s sixth Friday-night win in a row was confirmed!
These three points mean the Fuggerstädter remain in 13th position in the Bundesliga table, now only five points behind the evening’s opponents. On the cards next weekend is a long trip north to face Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion.