Esswein hands Augsburg important loss

FC Augsburg were beaten 2-1 at home at the hands of FC Nürnberg on Friday evening to keep them 5 points outside of the relegation zone with the bottom two to face each other on Saturday.

Hiroshi Kiyotake gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half before a blunder from goalkeeper Raphael Schäfer gifted Augsburg an equaliser. Alexander Esswein scored what turned out to be the winner for der Club early in the second half.

In what had expected to be a tight and low-scoring affair, both sides had an opportunity inside the opening 4 minutes of the game. Neither Tobias Werner or Markus Feulner could convert the chances for their respective sides.

Alexander Esswein looked to threaten early down the left wing, and despite a couple of warning signs previously, Kevin Vogt was caught out of position for the opening goal. Esswein was able to get beyond his marker after the long ball was flicked-on. Once inside the penalty area with space and time, the FC Nürnberg number 33 picked out an unmarked Hiroshi Kiyotake who placed the ball into the top corner of the net to give the visitors the lead.

The home side rarely threatened Raphael Schäfer’s goal all game and the 34-year old goalkeeper, his team and fans will want to know how his side came away from the SGL Arena without a clean sheet.

The goal Schäfer conceded on 36 minutes is one that will make blooper videos and maybe a YouTube hit over the weekend. André Hahn’s cross from the right wing was met by the head of Tobias Werner 8 yards out. His soft header was straight into the hands of the Nürnberg goalkeeper, except the experienced Schäfer managed to spill the ball into the ground, through his legs and across the goal line.

One of the most basic saves in football was turned into an equalising goal.

The rest of the first half played out without any real tests on goal for a half-time score of 1-1.

Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker received a yellow card for a cynical foul on Kiyotake on the edge of the Augsburg penalty area. And on 54 minutes, Alexander Esswein took that free kick and blasted it low into the bottom right-hand corner to restore der Club’s lead.

In the final 10 minutes, substitute Berkay Dabanli hit the outside of the post with a headed attempt for the visitors.

FC Augsburg failed to create much against an experienced and tactically-sound FC Nürnberg side. It was just 1 defeat in 8 matches heading into this one, but at full-time they are left to nervously watch the battle between Greuther Fürth and 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday to see if their lead over the bottom two is cut.

1. FC Nürnberg now have a 10-point lead over FC Augsburg and a 15-point advantage over the bottom two in the automatic relegation places. Michael Wiesinger, with relatively little coaching experience when he took over der Club on Christmas Eve has lost just 1 of his 8 Bundesliga games in charge (drawing 5). That came at Borussia Dortmund.