FC Augsburg earn promotion to Bundesliga with last gasp 2-1 win
impuls arena, Augsburg - "Jos we can win on mothers day!" were the words being held aloft on cards all around the sold out stadium. Word play on the name of Augsburg manager Jos Luhukay (pronounced 'yos') who´s team hosted FSV Frankfurt on a sunny afternoon in rural Bavaria.
Today was a historic day for FC Augsburg who for the first time in their history have reached the dizzy heights of the top flight of German league football. A win today was all that was needed to secure their promotion and despite conceding a penalty after just 2 minutes (converted by Juergen Gjasula), they did equalize through Michael Thurk (14 mins) and then poked home a late winner scored by substitute Stephan Hain (85 mins) who had only been on the pitch for some 7 minutes.
It was a dominant and attacking performance from Augsburg who came out with all guns blazing and with the intention of taking the game firmly to their visitors. Frankfurt did offer some resistance but it was mostly one-way traffic. The Bavarian outfit expertly exposing Frankfurt´s weakness down the left flank. Axel Billinghausen and Marcel De Jong were virtually unstoppable as they worked the ball ruthlessly down the left side to deliver crosses with pin point accuracy.
Solid passing and good running gave them the first opportunity of the game of which Nando Rafael was just unable to capitalize on.
Frankfurt goalkeeper Michael Langer was put under pressure with a back pass from his defense and was forced to clear long. The ball found the feet of Sascha Moelders who ran unmarked into the penalty area.Augsburg defender Uwe Moehrle was the only player with a chance of covering but his clumsy barge into the onrushing forward meant that he gave away a clear penalty and received the honour of being the first player to enter the referees´ book. The penalty was taken by Gjasula who struck it right-footed, low and left to open the scoring.
It was a shock to everyone to find the home side one goal down but to their credit they stayed patient and continued to press from the restart. Their reward was an equalizer in the 14th minute. Some silky smooth footwork from Bellinghausen who drifted in from the left found Nando waiting middle of the area, his first time pass found Thurk who had made a run on the left and his left footed shot across the keeper flew into the goal put bring Augsburg back on level terms.
Thurk then proceeded to miss a whole host of good chances as Augsburg created an abundance of scoring opportunities. Bellinghausen and De Jong linked up together perfectly to give the opposing full back a truly torrid time for the entire game.
Honours were even at the half time whistle and for Augsburg the game plan would remain the same for the 2nd half. Frankfurt would come back out and continue to give the same lackluster performance from a team that lay mid-table and playing only for pride.
It was clear to see in the early stages of the 2nd half that the tempo had been dialed down a touch. More football was being played in the middle of the park and although not particularly pretty to watch, Augsburg proved that they could boss the middle as well as the wide areas.
Augsburg pressed and pressed with ease, recording 13 goal attempts and winning a total of 14 corners compared with just 1 for their counterparts. Augsburg seemed to be able to put the ball from their set pieces directly on the heads of their teammates as if they were using a kind of military guidance system.
Thurk again missed what was effectively an open goal in the 49th minute, guiding the ball over the crossbar from 2 yards out at the far post. Quite how an experienced player like him could miss is anyone´s guess when it would have been easier to score! An incredible miss.
Frankfurt´s best chance came just after the hour mark when a defensive header from Gibril Sankoh was knocked backwards and left Moelders one on one with Simon Jentzsch in the Augsburg goal. Jentzsch got down quickly to save from close range and keep his team in the match.
The winning goal came from a Thurk corner on the left after 85 minutes of play. He crossed with an acute angle, the ball landing perfectly at the feet of substitute Stephan Hain standing just a yard from the goal line. The simplest of touches was all that was required for the ball to cross the line and the crowd to go wild in jubilation. It was an inspired substitution by Luhukay to replace a defender (Lukas Sinkiewicz) with the young striker and a gamble that well and truly paid off. That goal could be the most important ever scored for Augsburg and was their ticket out of the kindergarten and into the big boy´s school.
How Augsburg will fare in the top flight is the question on everyone lips. They have a good young crop of talented and hard working players that should cut the mustard and compete at the higher level. Perhaps a player from the Michael Ballack mould would be a useful acquisition to their youthful midfield though?
Whatever happens they will enjoy the ride next season. Very well done to FC Augsburg for a fully deserved win today and for having a sensational season where they have truly exceeded everyone´s expectations.