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Magnificent stuff at the Millerntor! FC St. Pauli celebrated their fourth win in a row on Saturday afternoon but were left biting their nails to the end. Guido Burgstaller and Omar Marmoush gave the home side a two-goal lead, only for Darmstadt to restore parity within minutes through Tim Skarke and Serdar Dursun before Burgstaller then scored a rocket to win it amid further chances for both sides. Before the match, the two clubs joined forces to send out a clear message against racism.

Before the focus turned to football at the Millerntor, the two clubs jointly commemorated Gökhan Gültekin, Sedat Gürbüz, Said Nessar Hashemi, Mercedes Kierpacz, Hamza Kenan Kurtović, Vili Viorel Păun, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Ferhat Unvar and Kaloyan Velkov, who were killed in a racist terror attack in Hanau a year ago.

"FC St. Pauli and SV Darmstadt 98 condemn racism in all its forms. At a time when society really should not have to talk about it anymore, racism is one of our biggest problems. We must never accept this state of affairs and must oppose it at all times. In our parliaments, on the streets and in everyday life. No room for racism."

The St. Pauli starting lineup had a familiar look to it, with coach Timo Schultz seeing no reason to make a change after a run of three wins in succession. Eric Smith, who had been forced off by injury at Nürnberg, resumed training during the week and was able to start. Schultz's opposite number Markus Anfang made two changes to the side that beat Osnabrück 1-0 last time out, Tim Skarke and Lars Lukas Mai coming in for Christian Clemens and Patrick Herrmann.

The contest began with a bang and, as so often in recent weeks, with a chance for Burgstaller. Teed up by Rodrigo Zalazar, the Austrian hit a first-time effort in the penalty area but was unable to get the better of goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen. Serdar Dursun posted the first attacking threat for the visitors on seven minutes, the striker directing his shot wide of the left-hand upright. Both teams strived to play cultured football and moved the ball around well, but with both defences alert to any danger there were no further chances of note until midway through the first half.

It had been a fairly even matchup to that point but then came Burgstaller. Sebastian Ohlsson's cross took several deflections before landing at the striker's feet, allowing him to bundle the ball over the line from close range for his seventh goal in as many games. Undaunted, the visitors continued to push forward but the home rearguard stood firm, with Ohlsson and James Lawrence both getting a foot in at the decisive moment around the half-hour mark. At the other end, the Boys in Brown thought they had doubled their advantage five minutes before the interval, but Philipp Ziereis's header from a Zalazar free-kick was ruled out by referee Michael Bacher after Kofi Kyereh impeded Dursun in the run-up. For Darmstadt, Marvin Mehlem missed the best opportunity to equalise just before the break.

More important than any game of football: joint commemoration before the kick-off.

More important than any game of football: joint commemoration before the kick-off.

Both sides emerged unchanged for the second half and the visitors hit the ground running when set-­piece specialist Tobias Kempe rattled the crossbar with a free-kick from the edge of the D, a stroke of luck for the Boys in Brown, as it looked beyond the reach of Dejan Stojanovic. The on-loan keeper soon had an opportunity to demonstrate his quality, however, when he defused a shot from Dursun unsighted. Darmstadt dominated the opening stages of the second half, with the only look-in for the Brown and Whites an effort from Burgstaller that failed to trouble the keeper.

Yet St. Pauli very nearly came up with the perfect response. Smith picked out Burgstaller with a fine pass and the Austrian squared it into the middle, but Marmoush dallied slightly and the chance was gone. It could have been 2-0 but instead the Boys in Brown were left counting their blessings when Mathias Honsak squandered an excellent opportunity at the other end. Then, with 62 minutes on the clock, Marmoush made amends for his earlier miss in clinical fashion. Collecting a pass from Smith, he knocked the ball past Lars Lukas Mai and then skimmed a shot into the bottom corner with the outside of his foot to make it 2-0.

It's rare for St. Pauli not to concede these days, however, and the Lilies hit back almost immediately when Skarke volleyed an assist from Dursun into the far corner. And two minutes later, the lead was wiped out. Dursun got in behind the defence and had no trouble converting a cross from the right to level at 2-2.

The action ebbed and flowed at a breathtaking pace and both teams had great chances to take the lead. Schuhen produced a fine reflex save on the line to deny Marmoush, and then Stojanovic got the better of Honsak in a one-on-one. Timo Schultz sought to stifle Darmstadt's attacking threat with the introduction of Tore Reginiussen for Finn Ole Becker, a move that saw the Boys in Brown, now operating with a back three, regain control of the proceedings. And yet again it was Guido Burgstaller who made the difference. The Austrian marksman brought down Lawrence's long ball perfectly and left Schuhen no chance with a fierce left-foot drive.

The game was far from over, however, and the frame of the goal came to the rescue again for the Boys in Brown when Dursun headed a free-kick against the bar. Further changes by both sides ushered in four minutes of stoppage time, in which the visitors almost grabbed another equaliser in the final seconds. A corner from the right was cleared on the line by Ohlsson, and in the resulting goalmouth scramble the ball struck the crossbar a third time. Finally, it was all over and the Boys in Brown were left celebrating their fourth win in a row.

FC St. Pauli

Stojanovic - Ohlsson, Ziereis, Lawrence, Paqarada - Smith, Becker (Reginiussen 72'), Zalazar (Aremu 90'), Kyereh (Dittgen 87') - Marmoush (Zander 87'), Burgstaller (Matanovic 90')

Head coach: Timo Schultz


SV Darmstadt 98

Schuhen - Höhn, Pálsson, Mai - Skarke (Berko 81'), Rapp, Holland - Mehlem (Schnellhardt 85'), Kempe (Seydel 85'), Honsak - Dursun

Head Coach: Markus Anfang


Goals:1-0 Burgstaller (26'), 2-0 Marmoush (62'), 2-1 Skarke (64'), 2-2 Dursun (66'), 3-2 Burgstaller (82')

Yellow cards: Marmoush, Zander - Rapp, Kempe

Referee: Michael Bacher (Amerang-Kirchensur)


Photos: Witters