When you look at the statistics of past encounters between these two teams 1860 München's trip to Eintracht Braunschweig hardly boded well for the visitors. The hosts are sitting pretty at the top of the 2. Bundesliga having only dropped points at home on two occasions this campaign. In stark comparison, 1860's form has seen them win only once in their last six matches. When you also consider there has never been an away victory when these two clubs have met in the 2. Bundesliga it was easy to understand why the odds were stacked against Alexander Schmidt's men. Luckily for 1860, football isn't played on paper.
After tinkering with his tactics last week, 1860's manager opted to return to his usual 4-4-2 formation, restoring Wojtkowiak at right back and bringing in Tomasov on the wing after a strong performance against VfL Bochum. Similar to the last fixture, 1860 were almost undone after 10 minutes, as a marauding Elabdellaoui executed a text-book overlap down the right flank before dragging the ball back to Boland who, from the penalty spot, rattled the ball against Kiraly's crossbar. The ricochet fell to the head of Merkel whose finishing was luckily not as strong as his namesake's foreign policy.
Around the 15-minute mark, 1860 began to grow in stature, slowly easing themselves into the game. The influential Stoppelkamp was creating chances with almost every touch of the ball and the signs were promising when the half-time whistle rang out. Schmidt would definitely have been the happier of the two managers. Both teams played a tactical first half, refusing to take any risks, wary that one goal could decide the match.
The second half began in much the same way, with the majority of possession being shared in the middle of the pitch. A lapse in concentration from Stoppelkamp after 56 minutes allowed Reichel to wriggle free down the left and swing a ball into the box. The league's top scorer Kumbela obligingly met the cross to head past a powerless Kiraly. It was heartbreak for 1860, as all of their hard work unravelled before their very eyes. Having not scored in over two hours of football the outlook seemed bleak.
Following the introduction of Wood and Kamara, 1860 searched for that elusive goal with a four-pronged attack. With a step-over in the middle of the pitch, Lauth ghosted past his man after 77 minutes before moving the ball to Stoppelkamp. A perfectly timed ball freed substitute Kamara. He whipped a ball into the near post and Friend guided it into the far corner in unorthodox style. The relief of scoring such an important goal was plain to see as Friend raced over to the 1860 support to celebrate.
The game was all set for a grandstand finish with both teams throwing caution to the wind in order to find that elusive, winning goal. After 85 minutes, the dominant Stoppelkamp swivelled on the ball in the centre circle. Looking up he spotted Lauth pulling off the last man and played a delightful ball over the top into the striker's path. Braunschweig Goalkeeper Daniel Davari came rushing out of his goal and found himself in a confrontation with Lauth, who gave him the eyes before poking the ball under the keeper's hand into the unguarded goal. With a Cantona-esque celebration Lauth lapped up the cheers of the travelling 1860 fans, having secured an unexpected 3 points.
After the disappointing showing against Vfl Bochum last week, 1860 fans will be pleased not only by the final result, but also by the manner of the victory. With the odds stacked against them it would have been logical for 1860 to defend deep and hope for a smash-and-grab victory. Today's performance was anything but, with the victory well and truly deserved. If only this mixture of performance and luck had been present more often this season then maybe things would look a lot different for 1860 München.
Eintracht Braunschweig: Davari - Elabdellaoui, Dogan, Bicakcic, Reichel - Petersch, Theuerkauf, Kratz (84' Bohl), Boland (68' Korte) - Merkel (68' Edwini-Bonsu), Kumbela
TSV 1860 München: Kiraly - Wojtkowiak (78' Volz), Vallori, Bülow, Fathi - Stoppelkamp, Bierofka (64' Kamara), Stahl, Tomasov (53' Wood) - Friend, Lauth
Goals: 1-0 Kumbela (56'), 1-1 Friend (77'), 1-2 Lauth (85')
Referee: Thorsten Kinhöfer