Going into Friday night’s home match against 1. FC Kaiserlautern, 1. FC Nürnberg needed points to stay ahead of St. Pauli (4th place, 42 points) and within touching distance of SC Freiburg (2nd place, 47 points), cementing their 3rd place slot for the Bundesliga promotion playoff. As for the visitors, they remained mired deep within mid-table, another 2. Bundesliga season all but guaranteed for the Traditionsverein.
Mission accomplished for Der Club, who won 2-1. Nürnberg – for a night at least – sit level on points with Freiburg and are five points ahead of the Hamburg Cultists. Kaiserlautern made the homeside’s job very difficult, conceding the winner just before added time:
- Nürnberg – Patrick Erras (19′, assisted by Niclas Füllkrug).
- Kaiserslautern – Jon Dadi Bödvarsson (22′, assisted by Antonio Colak).
- Nürnberg – Zoltan Steiber (88′, assisted by Danny Blum).
For the homeside, the win – for a night at least – pulls them level with 2nd place SC Freiburg on points (47), although the Black Forest club has the superior goal difference. For the visitors, a somewhat undeserved loss from a fiercely contested affair. Kaisterslautern slid down to 10th place (31 points), wedged between Fürth and Union Berlin.
In the final ten minutes, with the match tied 1-1, play settled into frustrated grooves. A draw looked certain.
Then at 87′, in the attacking third, Nürnberg’s Danny Blum took on a defender in the left pocket. His dribble opened space for a sending in a cross, which arched in, then was absolutely smashed home by Zoltan Stieber. The Hungarian and former HSV, Fürth, M05, Aachen man (among others) celebrated with abandoned. Stieber ran to the Nürnberg ultras, flung off his shirt, which he kicked around the perimeter of the stands. The long, kit-less, and impassioned celebration earned Stieber a yellow, then red card from referee Florian Meyer.
During the final 2 minutes, plus 5 of injury time, Nürnberg clung on with 10 men, as Kaiserslautern battered away. Substituted keeper Patrick Rakovsky made two clinching saves to preserve the win.
Man of the Match
Ready for a surprise? My man of the match is Patrick Rakovsky. The backup keeper subbed on for team “heart ‘n soul,” Rafael Schäfer, who suffered an Achilles injury at 66’.
Rakovsky stepped into a fire anthill, and survived, including two difficult saves in squeeky bum time. Nürnberg owe as much as of their win to former starting keeper as they do today’s goal scorers, Erras and Stieber.
Very evenly matched, stats-wise, in terms of shots, corners, fouls, challenges. A sort of rough ‘n tumble equality you expect from a derby – indeed, the match certainly felt like one.
Nürnberg enjoyed more possession (55%), but didn’t make much of it, as Kaiserslautern actually felt the more dangerous team when breaking counters with speed.
Finally, in the “I have no idea what this means” category, Nürnberg’s cult hero striker and tatoo-festooned, Guido Burgstaller, attempted a breath-catching 29 (!) sprints.
This graphic could mean a number of things: confusion, poor positioning, hard work, Schopenhauerian exertion of the will – I dunno. Still, arresting.
- Down the stretch, consistency is pretty much all that matters to succeed in the 2. Bundesliga. And Nürnberg have it right now. A promising sign for promotion.
- All three of Nürnberg’s heroes in this match were subs: Danny Blum, Patrick Rakovsky, and Zoltan Stieber.
- Although their attack doesn’t look effective enough for the top flight, Nürnberg are grinding out goals when it counts in 2. Bundesliga. Steely performances.
- A sort of microcosm of a frustrating year. The storied club are certainly better than their 10th place in the table. Close loses to quality opponents haunt them.
- The Icelander Bödvarsson scored his 1st goal in his 6th appearance for 1.FCK.
- The loss to Nürnberg brings Kaiserslautern’s GD to 33-33. Dead even. No wonder they’re dead even in the table.
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