Nürnberg look to be finally getting out of their terrible early season form after having taken seven of nine points from their last three games, thanks to Friday night’s 1-o victory over the visiting RB Leipzig.
Alessandro Schöpf secured victory for der Club with a fine finish of some quick counter-attacking by his side. There was even an incident involving the referee which caused a two-minute delay in the second half.
Nürnberg returned from international break hoping to continue a slight upturn in form leading to a draw with VfL Bochum and a 3-2 downing of Kaiserslautern to deny the Red Devils a spot atop the league. At the start of tonight’s tie, the table saw the FCN sitting tenth place due largely to their horrid start to the season, in which they lost five of nine upon suffering the drop from the Bundesliga.
RB Leipzig have been nearly Nürnberg’s complete opposite so far this season: they had lost but one of their first seven, but experienced a slight stutter over their last two before the break, drawing with Fortuna Düsseldorf and FC Heidenheim. Both splits came to tough sides, but remain disappointing results for a club aspiring to reach the holy grail that is the Bundesliga.
Danny Blum and Timo Gebhart were the only players missing for Nürnberg tonight.
There was also good personnel news for Leipzig, as USA striker Terence Boyd started on the bench for the first time since tearing a cruciate ligament before the season started. RB were, however, without Croatian winger Ante Rebić, who suffered a shoulder injury in an UEFA U-21 playoff against England.
In an opening 45 minutes full of wasted chances and poor passing, Nürnberg misplaced 53.33% of their passes, as witnessed by a rather sparse crowd at the Grundig Stadion. In the very early stages of the game, the Nürnberg players weren’t happy with Joshua Kimmich’s high foot on a challenge to Niklas Stark for the ball inside the Nürnberg box. The home side did have a fairly decent chance only minutes later when a cross to Jakub Sylvestr was cleared for a corner, with the resulting set piece headed just over the crossbar by Niklas Füllkrug.
RB Leipzig countered quite a few times throughout first half, but their final ball repeatedly let them down. The first instance of this came in the eleventh minute as Matthias Morys was in a dangerous crossing position on the wing with fellow striker Yussuf Poulsen having made a decent run into the box. The ball ultimately sailed harmlessly over the Danish striker’s head. Nürnberg, replied in the 17th minute with a Candelas shot from the edge of the box that fell to Sylvester who out-muscled Marvin Compper to attempt an off-balance shot that went wide. Füllkrug, Nürnberg’s best player on the night, had another effort in the 22nd minute, but it was again straight at the keeper.
Dominik Kaiser, on the other side, was also a threat throughout the night. His first significant impact came in the 36th minute when he put a shot well over after decent build-up play from his teammates. He was then involved in another important chance in the 39th minute when Morys played the ball through to him. Kaiser appeared to be pushed over and, just as the referee was about to whistle for a penalty, Poulsen got to the ball and launched a shot. The referee allowed the advantage to be played, despite Poulsen’s shot having been very poor. Leipzig probably would’ve been happier with a penalty.
The second half was a lot more enthralling than the first, with multiple chances for both sides and an unusual moment involving the referee.
Leipzig thought they had taken the lead almost immediately after the restart, when Compper put the ball in the back of the net. The linesman had, however, ruled Poulsen offside in the build-up play. FCN left back Manuel Bihr then nearly scored with a wonderfully creative effort after a low corner. Bihr let the ball run through his legs before flicking it towards goal with his instep, but was unable to get enough power on it, allowing it to easily be saved.
There was a welcome sight for all Leipzig fans in the 61st minute, when €2 million man Terrence Boyd came on for Marvin Compper and nearly scored with his first touch, the effort ultimately thwarted by Patrick Rakovsky. Füllkrug yet again threatened in the second half; in the 68th minute, he beat two defenders simultaneously before poking his attempt just wide of Benjamin Bellot’s post.
Then came the unusual moment involving the referee.
After the ball had gone out for a throw-in, Dr. Jochen Drees headed towards the Nürnberg dugout. It looked as if he were about to warn the staff of their behaviour. Instead, it turns out the referee was feeling tightness in his hamstring, and he approached to ask Nürnberg medical staff for treatment, which then delayed the game for a couple of minutes.
Der Club took the lead almost immediately after the restart, when Georg Teigl was dispossessed on the halfway line, and the home side punished the turnover with some neat play down the left hand side, leading to Füllkrug laying the ball off for Alessandro Schöpf, who made no mistake with the finish from the edge of the box.
Robert Koch nearly doubled the lead five minutes later when he delivered a shot that had to be tipped over the bar for a corner and then struck the post with a header off the resulting corner.
Kaiser nearly levelled the game soon after when Rakovsky came running out but could only half clear, tempting Kaiser into a long-range lofted shot that landed atop the goal netting. This was followed by a chance at play-making for Boyd inside the box, but instead of passing to a teammate with a better look, he took the shot himself, and the resolute defenders blocked it.
There was then a big, dramatic gathering in the 89th minute when a RBL corner was cleared, resulting in another corner. When substitute Daniel Frahn tried to return to the field after giving the ball to his teammate, he was held back by Javier Pinola which angered the Leipzig players, spurring the Nürnberg players to counter-react. In the end, only Frahn and Pinola were booked, which became the last major event of the game.
FC Nürnberg: Rakovsky – Celustka, Petrak, Stark, Bihr – Koch, Mössmer – Candelas (82’ Mlapa), Schöpf, Füllkrug (94’ Polák) – Sylvestr (86’ Hovland)
RB Leipzig: Bellot – Teigl, Sebastian, Compper (61’ Boyd), Jung – Kimmich (83’ Frahn), R. Khedira, Demme, Kaiser – Morys (77’ Hierländer), Poulsen
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