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St. Pauli began the 2017/18 with an away game at VfL Bochum. A crowd of 27,000 saw a scoreless first half before Christopher Buchtmann bagged the only goal of the game in the 65th minute to guarantee a successful start to the campaign.

Head coach Olaf Janssen was spoilt for choice ahead of his first competitive game in charge of the Boys in Brown. In the end he made just one change to the team that defeated Werder Bremen 2-1 in the dress rehearsal last week, opting for experience at right-back in Jan-Philipp Kalla. New boy Luca Zander dropped to the bench. Bochum coach Ismail Atalan, who took charge of the home side just 17 days ago, fielded two new recruits in left-back Danilo Soares and striker Dimitris Diamantakos.

During the week Janssen predicted it would be a completely different game from the one on the final day of last season, when the two teams were merely fighting it out for 7th, 8th or 9th place. Sixty-eight days later the aim for both sides was to get off to a good start to the new campaign. And with three minutes gone Bernd Nehrig could have given his team a great start to the game. After a fine solo run the new skipper found himself clean through with just Manuel Riemann to beat, but he was unable to steer the ball past the Bochum keeper.

Janssen's charges began very aggressively, putting Bochum under a sustained spell of pressure with their high-tempo game. As a result, the home side rarely got close to the FCSP penalty box. While Robin Himmelmann had nothing to do in the opening stages, Riemann was called into action twice in sixty seconds on the quarter-hour. The Bochum custodian first defused a long-range effort from Waldemar Sobota and then gathered a shot from just outside the box by Christopher Buchtmann.

The Boys in Brown continued to dictate the proceedings but failed to convert a string of half-chances. At the back they kept a tight ship, as so often in the successful second half of last season. Aziz Bouhaddouz had an opportunity to head his side in front on 27, but could only direct Buchtmann's corner straight at Riemann. With half an hour gone, however, the travelling fans breathed a sigh of relief when the home side broke quickly after winning possession in midfield. Stefan Celozzi threaded the ball through to Thomas Eisfeld, who unleashed a shot in the box that Himmelmann kept out in fine fashion with his foot.

Bochum were now more solid at the back and closed down the space in defensive midfield, which meant fewer forays into the box for the Boys in Brown. That changed on 37 when Allagui nutmegged Danilo on the right-hand side and pulled the trigger from a tight angle, only to be denied by Riemann. Two minutes later the impressive Sobota drilled a shot wide of the left-hand post from distance. It was to prove the last action of note and the two sides went in deadlocked at the break.

Bernd Nehrig could have opened the scoring early on. Here is fouled by Bochum's Thomas Eisfeld.

Bernd Nehrig could have opened the scoring early on. Here is fouled by Bochum's Thomas Eisfeld.

Whereas Atalan made one substitution at half-time (Alexander Merkel for Selim Gündüz) and switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2, Janssen had no reason to change his team after a decent first-half performance. When the action resumed his side continued where they had left off. Buchtmann, who had stood out in the playmaker role against Bremen, unleashed a low drive from 20 metres, but Riemann was alert to the danger and made the save.

Bochum hit back, however, and carved out three chances in quick succession from the 50th minute. First Kalla was forced to clear the ball off the line and then Himmelmann kept out a shot from Danilo. Just 60 seconds later Eisfeld tried his luck from 14 metres, forcing Himmelmann into another smart save. On 57 it was our turn again on the counter. Kalla sent Allagui on his way into the box and he sidestepped Jan Gyamerah before firing a shot just over the top.

The game remained an exciting, high-quality affair that swang from end to end. On 61 minutes Bochum striker Diamantakos did well to force his way through in the box and test Himmelmann once again, and the 28-year-old shot-stopper produced another fantastic save with his foot. The play switched back to the other end and suddenly we were in the lead! A perfect counterattack from the Boys in Brown on 67 saw Allagui square the ball to Buchtmann, who beat Riemann with a pinpoint shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.

Although the home side had enjoyed a slight edge after the break, the lead was not undeserved. Bochum tried to hit back quickly, but Himmelmann defused a header from defender Tim Hoogland, who had gone up for a corner. Soon after Janssen made his first change, introducing Cenk Sahin for the impressive Allagui.

Buoyed by the lead, Janssen's side surrendered more possession to the home side but defended resolutely in an attempt to see the game out. Bochum struggled to find a way through the FCSP rearguard and in the closing stages threw everyone forward, but the Boys in Brown, now with Kyoungrok Choi instead of Mats Møller Dæhli, held their own to secure the first three points of the new season.


VfL Bochum

Riemann – Gyamerah, Hoogland, Bastians – Celozzi, Losilla – Gündüz (Merkel 46'), Eisfeld (Saglam 68'), Danilo – Wurtz, Diamantakos (Mlapa 75')

Head coach: Ismail Atalan


FC St. Pauli

Himmelmann – Kalla, Hornschuh, Sobiech, Buballa – Sobota (Zander 90'), Nehrig, Buchtmann, Møller Dæhli (Choi 81') – Allagui (Sahin 69'), Bouhaddouz

Head coach: Olaf Janssen


Goals: 0-1 Buchtmann (65')

Yellow cards: Danilo - Kalla

Referee: Bastian Dankert (Rostock)

Attendance: 27,000


Photos: Witters