Two teams who both have opened this year’s 2. Bundesliga in an impressive fashion locked horns at the Millerntor-stadion when FC St. Pauli hosted 1. FC Heidenheim at home Wednesday. The hosts opened the game as the stronger of the two sides, but it was FCH that found the net first. Daniel Frahn’s goal was ruled out though, and St. Pauli could follow it up by scoring the first legal goal of the encounter shortly afterwards. Heidenheim’s hopes of equalizing came to an abrupt end in the second half when Mathias Wittek was shown the red card, giving the Reeperbahn side a 1-0 victory. Goalkeeper Robin Himmelmann kept the clean sheet for the home side.
St. Pauli’s Waldemar Sobota was the first player to try to score a goal in the game. After only a couple of minutes, the midfielder found space just outside the opponent’s box, but kicked the ball over the bar. Lasse Sobiech came even closer just minutes later when a fine Marc Rzatkowski free kick found the former Hamburger SV man’s head, but the ball once again flew over the bar.
Both clubs impressed defensively, and the game more or less shifted from one penalty area to the other during the first 30 minutes. However, the encounter really gained momentum from there and after. John Verhoek hit the post after 32 minutes after a finish with his chest, and shortly afterwards Heidenheim actually found the net after a nice counter attack. The goal did not stand, however, as Daniel Frahn was ruled offside when he caught the ball and rolled it into the net. The call was correct, a replay showed that the 28-year-old was more or less one meter offside as he received the ball.
And when it rains, it pours. Less than five minutes later, bad luck showed its ugly face to Heidenheim once again as St. Pauli took the lead in front of about 30 000 spectators. Rzatkowski found central attacking midfielder Sebastian Maier with a simple pass, and instead of playing the ball out wide, Maier decided to go for it and shot. That turned out to be the right call; the ball curled perfectly into the net just inside the right post, and the home supporters erupted into a huge roar once again.
Heidenheim had a tough time when it came to creating opportunities and find space on the offensive end of the field, even in the second half. Things didn’t turn to the better when Mathias Wittek came in late in a challenge with Christopher Buchtmann, and was handed his second yellow card of the day.
A reduced Heidenheim team posed very little threat to the home side, and St. Pauli had thus once again a great control of the encounter. The hosts came close to scoring the second goal of the day to secure the victory after 78 minutes when a fine corner found Sobiech, who already has scored two goals this season. Hedenheim goalkeeper Jan Zimmermann made a good save though, and kept his side’s hope of returning to southern Germany with a point alive.
Those hopes ended not too many minutes later, though, when referee Christian Dietz blew the final whistle and proclaimed that the game was over. The three points mean that St. Pauli climbs to a second spot in the 2. Bundesliga standing, only a point behind leaders VfL Bochum, while FC Heidenheim has to make do with ninth place. Five points separate the two teams.
St. Pauli’s head coach Ewald Linen was happy with the victory when talking to the press after the game, but he also took the time to praise Heidenheim’s effort at the Millerntor.
“The victory is deserved, but it was super hard. Heidenheim is a robust, compact and counter-strong team. I have great respect for the work that they do,” the 61-year-old said during the press conference, according to St. Pauli’s official website.
St. Pauli’s next game in the 2. Bundesliga is away to SC Paderborn Saturday, a club which has opened this year’s campaign in an all but impressive fashion. FC Heidenheim meanwhile, lock horns with Karlsruher SC on Sunday at home.
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