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BOYS IN BROWN HIT FOR FOUR BY BRUTALLY EFFECTIVE DARMSTADT

A run of six games without defeat ended abruptly on Saturday afternoon when the Boys in Brown slipped to a hefty 4-0 defeat at title chasers SV Darmstadt 98. The clinically efficient home side were already four up by the break thanks to goals from Phillip Tietz, Braydon Manu and Luca Pfeiffer (2). And though the Schultz XI made a game of it after the interval, there was no way back.

Timo Schultz made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Werder Bremen on their last outing three weeks ago. Captain Philipp Ziereis returned to central defence in place of James Lawrence, while Jackson Irvine got the nod over Finn Ole Becker in midfield. Up front, Etienne Amenyido made his first start for the club alongside Guido Burgstaller, coming in for Maximilian Dittgen. In contrast, Darmstadt coach Torsten Lieberknecht saw no reason to change things and fielded the same 11 players who started in the 4-2 win at FC Schalke 04 a fortnight ago.

In front of a sell-out 13,000 crowd at the Böllenfalltor, the two most prolific teams in the league went at it hammer and tongs from the off, with the opening chance falling to the Boys in Brown in the third minute. Leart Paqarada found Guido Burgstaller with a diagonal ball, and he forced a smart save from Marcel Schuhen from a tight angle. Just three minutes later, however, the home side were celebrating. Patric Pfeiffer knocked a free-kick from his own half in behind the St. Pauli defence, where Phillip Tietz steered a low shot beyond Nikola Vasilj into the bottom right corner of the net. A frustrating goal to concede, as it could easily have been avoided.

Jakov Medić then required a lengthy spell of treatment for a nosebleed after an aerial duel with Braydon Manu but was eventually able to continue. It remained a high-intensity contest with neither side giving an inch as the game ebbed and flowed at pace. Chances remained at a premium, however, with most attacking forays breaking down on the edge of the box at the latest. Marcel Hartel eventually went for goal on 28 following a neat move involving Daniel-Kofi Kyereh and Burgstaller, only to screw his shot wide. At the other end, Darmstadt proved more clinical. A long pass forward from Klaus Gjasula saw Medić and Tietz both go to ground when challenging for the ball, allowing Manu to pick up the pieces and rifle a drive into the bottom right corner from 14 metres. The tussle between Medić and Tietz was reviewed by the VAR, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Six minutes later, Kyereh came within a whisker of halving the deficit with a deflected effort that fizzed just past the upright. The home side continued to show ruthless efficiency in attack, however, and extended their lead on 39 minutes. A Fabian Holland throw-in from the left was headed on first by Mathias Honsak and then by Tietz to Luca Pfeiffer on the edge of the goal area, and he guided an unstoppable shot past Vasilj into the far corner. And if that wasn't bad enough, Tobias Kempe was allowed the space to shoot from range, and when Vasilj could only parry the bouncing ball, the unmarked Pfeiffer headed home from close range to make it 4-0 with just 41 minutes on the clock. On the stroke of half-time, Vasilj gathered another effort from Pfeiffer before Paqarada hit a free-kick over the bar in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time.

There was nothing Nikola Vasilj could do to prevent Phillip Tietz (left) giving his side an early lead.

There was nothing Nikola Vasilj could do to prevent Phillip Tietz (left) giving his side an early lead.

The Boys in Brown had not trailed by so many at half-time in more than five years – they had also found themselves 4-0 down at home against Ingolstadt in September 2016, which proved to be the final scoreline – and Timo Schultz responded by making not one but four changes, introducing James Lawrence, Sebastian Ohlsson, Eric Smith and Rico Benatelli for Jakov Medić, Luca Zander, Afeez Aremu and Marcel Hartel. His rejigged side began brightly enough, Benatelli unleashing a shot from 15 metres following a Paqarada free-kick on 49, only for Holland to get in a decisive block. Soon after, Darmstadt launched a decent counterattack via Manu and Pfeiffer, who fed Tietz in the inside-left channel, and he was denied by Vasilj. The keeper would have powerless a few minutes later, however, but Pfeiffer hooked his shot over the top when looking favourite to make it five.

As in the first period, the Boys in Brown lacked punch going forward. Too many wayward passes were partly the reason for that, and Darmstadt had little trouble fending off any attacks that did come. Ohlsson did have an opportunity to shoot from range from Kyereh's square ball, but it flew straight down the middle to Schuhen. The home side were happy to surrender possession, keeping things tight at the back while waiting for a chance to break. On the one occasion they failed to clear their lines from Paqarada's ball in, neither Jackson Irvine nor Burgstaller was able to capitalise. Paqarada and Benatelli then combined well to tee up Kyereh in the inside-left channel, but his left-foot shot flew well off target

It simply wasn't to be. The ball refused to go in, as when Burgstaller flicked on a corner for Irvine at the back post, his header flying a metre wide of the upright two minutes from time. Emir Karić went close in the second minute of time added on and then Vasilj pulled off a fine stop to deny Frank Ronstadt. And that was that. After a run of six games without defeat, the Boys in Brown lost for the first time since mid-September, allowing Darmstadt to leapfrog them to the top of the table.

SV Darmstadt 98

Schuhen - Bader, P. Pfeiffer, Isherwood, Holland - Manu (Ronstadt 60'), Kempe, Gjasula (Celić 46'), Honsak (Mehlem 76') - Tietz (Berko 82'), L. Pfeiffer (Karić 76')

Head coach: Torsten Lieberknecht

 

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Zander (Ohlsson 46'), Ziereis, Medić (Lawrence 46') Paqarada - Aremu (Smith 46'), Hartel (Benatelli 46'), Irvine, Kyereh (Buchtmann 85') - Amenyido, Burgstaller

Head coach: Timo Schultz

 

Goals: 1-0 Tietz (6'), 2-0 Manu (29'), 3-0 L. Pfeiffer (39'), 4-0 L. Pfeiffer (41')

Yellow cards: Gjasula, Bader, Celić – Bornemann (director of sport), Zander

Referee: Tobias Reichel (Stuttgart)

Attendance: 13,000

 

Photos: Witters

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