Munich, April 9 - TSV 1860 turned on the style and treated their new investor to a sensational first game at the Allianz Arena. The Lions restored some pride back at the club with a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of FC Energie Cottbus and extinguished any ambition their visitors had of landing a play-off place.
Dominik Stahl opened the scoring with a header after just two minutes, a superb brace either side of half time from Stefan Aigner (35th and 65th mins) and the rout was completed in style by Benny Lauth (84 min).
Having staved off financial administration last week, the celebrations continued for Reiner Maurer's team who put on a demonstration of attacking football and rock solid defending. In contrast Energie Cottbus were poor, rarely able to create chances for themselves and on the odd occasion that they did their finishing was simply awful.
By far the biggest thorn in Cottbus' side was an in-form Daniel Halfar. The tricky midfielder had a storming game and it was his hard work and determination that set up the two second half goals. Aigner too put in a good shift on the opposite flank, regularly exploiting the space afforded to him to good effect and finding himself in a number of good scoring positions.
From the kick off "Sechzig" showed their intent to impress the 18,000 loyal fans that turned up on this bright and sunny day. They pressed and hurried Cottbus in the early stages and for once had numbers in support when going forward.
The opening goal came from a free kick just outside the penalty area. Halfar lifted the ball over the wall with his left foot and rattled the crossbar. The ball deflected up and back down onto the head of Stahl who guided it nicely back across goal and into the net.
For large parts of the first half 1860 enjoyed some good spells of possession. Working the ball into the danger areas for the strike partnership of Kevin Volland and Lauth but also finding Stahl and Aigner in attacking positions.
It was Aigner who had the best chance to double the lead in the 34th minute. His low, powerful shot saved at the expense of a corner which Cottbus failed to clear, the loose ball arriving at the feet of Aleksandar Ignjovski out wide on the left. He headed like a steam train into the penalty area, his pass finding an unmarked Aigner who made no mistake thumping the ball hard and low with his left foot and into the net. 2-0 to the Lions!
Credit to Cottbus, they did step up a gear after that and tried hard to create a chance for themselves. The best of those from Jules Reimerink in the 41st minute. After controlling a high ball at the back post he found himself unmarked and 1-on-1 with goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. You would have bet your house on him scoring but somehow the ball was saved between Kiraly's legs. It seemed to surprise him as much as the home fans behind the goal. He turned and dived over the ball behind him, acrobatically collecting it as he rolled and stood to his feet again. Very cool from the veteran Hungarian shotstopper.
Shortly before the half time whistle Lauth unusually found himself in a deep position and in possession. Taking the ball forward he was crudely chopped down from behind by Nils Petersen who quite rightly went into the referee's book. So too did Aigner who we can only assume said something a bit naughty in protest.
The second half began at a much more leisurely pace by both sides. Cottbus made one change with Daniel Adlung making way for Rok Kronaveter in midfield. The substitution did little to alter the dynamics of the game. Sechzig still clearly the dominant force.
It was 10 minutes into the second half before anything really happened. Ignjovski made a rash, 2-footed sliding challenge on Cottbus goalkeeper Thorsten Kirschbaum and collected a yellow card for his bad behavior. Not to be outdone Markus Brzenska then went into the book for a clumsy tackle on Aigner. A minute later a double switch for Cottbus. Dennis Sorensen was replaced by Emil Jula and Kolja Afriyie made way for Adam Straith. All three Cottbus subs used with 28 minutes remaining of the half.
It was clear the game had lost some energy and was starting to look as if it would be become a refereeing nightmare. Dirty tackles were flying in from both sides. The visitors were desperate not to allow the Lions to build up any momentum.
Then the goal of the game came on 65 minutes. Halfar, who had worked his socks off all afternoon, gave us a glimpse of some real magic. Quick footwork just inside the Cottbus half took the ball past three players. A sublime run and a neat sideways pass found an on rushing Aigner who took a touch at the edge of the penalty area then blasted the ball into the net. A truly wonderful strike if not only for the finish but mostly for the build up by Halfar who looks to be a very valuable weapon in the 1860 arsenal.
Christopher Schindler was the first Munich substitute soon after the third goal when he relieved Ignjovski of his duties. He had started to look tired and was possibly the weak link being played out of position at left back. Schindler instantly looked a lot more comfortable taking over his role.
The next ten minutes was filled up with some tough tackling and blatant fouling. Cottbus still had no answer for the onslaught they were facing and with 7 minutes of the match remaining a tiring Volland was replaced by Alex Ludwig. He was on the field for barely a minute when Halfar decided that he had yet more brilliance to show us. The 23-year-old wonderkid went on another excursion into the Cottbus penalty area, turned his marker on the touchline and lifted the ball up and onto the head of his captain, Lauth, who was loitering a few yards in front of goal.
That goal rounded off a superb afternoon for 1860 who went on to record a thoroughly deserved win and claim all 3 points. If they can produce performances like that on a consistent basis next season they will surely have a fantastic opportunity to go up and compete against the big boys in the top league again.