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FC St. Pauli were held to a 2-2 draw by Erzgebirge Aue in the opening game of 2022 on Saturday afternoon. Ben Zolinski gave Aue a surprise lead with his side's sole attack in the first 45 before Jakov Medić levelled the scores on the half-hour. The Boys in Brown had more of the possession after the interval, but the visitors restored their advantage through substitute Nikola Trujić on 72. Etienne Amenyido then rescued a late point with a wonderful strike in time added on.

For the opening game of the year head coach Timo Schultz made four changes to the team that lost 3-0 at Holstein Kiel before the winter break. Jakov Medić slotted into central defence in place of James Lawrence, while Sebastian Ohlsson replaced the recovering Covid-19 patient Luca Zander at right-back. In attacking midfield Christopher Buchtmann deputised for Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, who is at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Maximilian Dittgen started alongside Guido Burgstaller up front instead of Igor Matanović.

The local coronavirus regulations meant that just 1,724 fans were in attendance for the opening home game of the year, all of them sitting socially distanced in the Main Stand. Despite the unusual atmosphere, in which the instructions from the two dugouts were clearly audible, the Boys in Brown seized the initiative from the off. The visitors, who started the day bottom of the table, sought to close down the space in their own half in front of a very deep backline. Though the Schultz XI played their way into the box on several occasion during the opening exchanges, the opening chance did not materialise until the 11th minute when Leart Paqarada picked out Philipp Ziereis with a cross, but his looping header lacked power and came down on top of the net.

Three minutes later came a golden opportunity to take the lead when the ball found its way to the unmarked Jackson Irvine in the box, but Ben Zolinski nipped in from behind to take the ball off the Australia international's toe just as he was shaping to shoot. Then, at the other end, the visitors had the ball in the net on their first venture upfield. A quick break down the right ended with Prince Osei Owusu delivering a cross into the middle for Zolinski to prod home from eight metres. And after a quick VAR check for a possible offside offence by Owusu, the goal was allowed to stand.

The Boys in Brown took a few minutes to recover from the shock of going behind completely against the run of play but were soon on the front foot again. Chances from open play remained at a premium, however, and it took a set piece to produce the breakthrough. Eric Smith dispatched a free-kick to the back stick, where Jakov Medić headed it back across goal and beyond Aue keeper Martin Männel – 1-1 with half an hour gone! The pattern remained the same until the break, with the Schultz XI hogging the possession and applying plenty of pressure, but without creating any meaningful opportunities until the first half had entered time added on. A filigree cross from Guido Burgstaller saw Irvine denied by Männel with a header before the Aue custodian defused a long-range effort from Marcel Hartel to ensure the two sides went in level at the interval.

Jakov Medić (back) escapes the attentions of his marker, Malcolm Cacutalua, to head his side level on the half-hour.

Jakov Medić (back) escapes the attentions of his marker, Malcolm Cacutalua, to head his side level on the half-hour.

The two coaches sent out unchanged sides for the second period and the Boys in Brown fashioned an opportunity to take the lead almost immediately when Buchtmann flicked on an upfield ball from Paqarada with his heel. The ball evaded Burgstaller but landed in the path of the advancing Irvine. His hurried shot from just inside the box lacked power, however, and Männel gathered easily. The Schultz XI maintained the pressure and moved the ball around nicely, with Aue continuing to hold a deep line and close down the space. And when the tempo was high, as for Irvine's chance, they carried a threat. As in the first half, however, it didn't always work out.

Then, Aue almost scored again with their first chance of the half. A long free-kick into the box found its way to Owusu, and with the home defence mistakenly appealing for offside, the striker put his shot the wrong side of the post with only Nikola Vasilj to beat. A lucky escape for the Boys in Brown. Timo Schultz responded to a lull in the play by introducing Etienne Amenyido for Christopher Buchtmann with 69 minutes gone. A few minutes later, however, the visitors were celebrating when a Zolinski cross was directed against the crossbar by Jan Hochscheidt from four metres, only for substitute Nikola Trujić to head home the rebound from close range.

Schultz reacted immediately and threw on Finn Ole Becker and Igor Matanović for Jackson Irvine and Maximilian Dittgen, but it was Aue who carved out the next chance. Owusu capitalised on a wayward pass in the St. Pauli build-up to knock the ball right to Antonio Jonjić, whose shot from a tight angle was kept out at the near post by Vasilj. With his side struggling to find a way through the packed Aue rearguard, Schultz made his last two rolls of the dice. Sebastian Ohlsson and Marcel Hartel were the players to make way, with Rico Benatelli and Lukas Daschner asked to provide some much-needed inspiration in the closing stages.

And what a finish it was. First, an undercooked clearance found its way to Daschner, whose left-foot volley flew just wide of the far post. Then, just as all looked lost, Amenyido provided a late reprieve, jinking past two defenders in the right-hand channel before curling a delicious strike into the far corner from the edge of the box. After a brief shock when Aue thought they had won it – the goal was ruled out for offside – Matanovic flashed an effort over the top and it ended all square.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Ohlsson (Benatelli 85'), Ziereis, Medić, Paqarada - Smith, Hartel (Daschner 85'), Irvine (Becker 75'), Buchtmann (Amenyido 69') - Dittgen (Matanović 75'), Burgstaller

Head coach: Timo Schultz


FC Erzgebirge Aue

Männel - Strauss, Gonther, Cacutalua, Carlson - Fandrich - Jonjić, Hochscheidt, Kühn (Trujić 64' /George 81') - Zolinski, Owusu (Gueye 89')

Manager: Marc Hensel


Goals: 0-1 Zolinski (17'), 1-1 Medić (30'), 1-2 Trujić (72'), 2-2 Amewnyido (90'+3)

Yellow cards: Trujić

Referee: Patrick Alt (Illingen)

Attendance: 1,724


Photos: Witters


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