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FC St. Pauli slipped to a 2-0 defeat at MSV Duisburg on the final day of the 2017/18 season. In front of 25,325 spectators, Moritz Stoppelkamp opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time before Christian Gartner made it two in the last minute. The Boys in Brown end the campaign in 12th place.

"We travel to Duisburg aiming to win our final game," said Jan-Philipp Kalla after the 1-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld that secured the club's second division status. A third win in succession would have seen the Boys in Brown finish in the top half of the table. Markus Kauczinski had said there would be "no experiments" and he picked his team accordingly, making just one change to the side in the shape of Aziz Bouhaddouz for the ailing Johannes Flum. Lasse Sobiech thus made his final start for the club.

Backed by 4,000 travelling fans, the Boys in Brown made a bright start on a very soggy pitch after some torrential rain before the kick-off. It was the home side who registered the first attempt on goal, however, Kevin Wolze blasting the ball well over in the fourth minute. Jan-Philipp Kalla then directed a shot wide of the upright, but with their next venture forward the Boys in Brown had the ball in the net. Bouhaddouz met a perfect cross from Richard Neudecker with his head and thought he had given his side the lead, only for referee Deniz Aytekin to rule the goal out for a shove by Dimitrios Diamantakos.

Kauczinski's side continued to edge the possession and Bouhaddouz saw a header saved by Daniel Davari on 16. Two minutes later, Diamantakos volleyed a shot into the side netting. MSV stepped up a gear in response, enjoying their fair share of the play without ever threating a well marshalled St. Pauli defence. Fabian Schnellhardt went for goal with a curling effort from the edge of the box on 35, but the ball flew well wide. In the second minute of time added on, however, the Zebras took a surprise lead when the Boys in Brown failed to clear their lines from a corner, allowing Moritz Stoppelkamp to head home from five metres.

Both teams fought for every ball. Here, Duisburg's Branimir Bajic challenges Richard Neudecker.

Both teams fought for every ball. Here, Duisburg's Branimir Bajic challenges Richard Neudecker.

Kauczinski made one change at the interval, introducing Daniel Buballa for Jeremy Dudziak. The Boys in Brown hit the ground running and fashioned their first chance of the half with just 25 seconds gone. Brian Koglin's ball in found Sobiech at the far post. His shot took a deflection, but Bouhaddouz was unable to capitalise on the rebound.

After a ten-minute lull in the action Kauczinski opted to make a second substitution, this time an attacking one in Waldemar Sobota for Kalla. The quality of the game showed no immediate improvement, however, with the two teams cancelling each out in midfield. Diamantakos was presented with an opening from a corner on 68, but his header flew some distance over the top. At the other end Stoppelkamp attempted a curler from the edge of the area, but Robin Himmelmann, who had had little to do, was equal to it. Less than 60 seconds later Mats Møller Dæhli skipped past a defender on the right and charged into the box before unleashing a shot on goal from a tight angle that unfortunately posed no problem for Davari.

With time slowly running out in which to ward off a final-day defeat. Kauczinski threw on another striker in Sami Allagui for Neudecker. And 60 seconds after Stoppelkamp had pulled a shot wide from the inside-left channel, Allagui had the chance to level the scores. Collecting a pass from Møller Dæhli, he set off down the right and cut inside before forcing a decent stop from Davari. Møller Dæhli could have rescued a point with three minutes left when presented with the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box, only to sky his shot over the top. But then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Christian Gartner made it 2-0, pouncing on the rebound after Himmelmann had done brilliantly to keep out a shot from Cauly Oliveira Souza. Moments later Aytekin blew his whistle to end the proceedings.

The defeat means the Boys in Brown end the season in 12th place. Eintracht Braunschweig suffered the agony of relegation alongside Kaiserslautern after going down 6-2 at third-placed Holstein Kiel. Erzgebirge Aue will contest the relegation play-off against Karlsruhe after a late goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at Darmstadt, while a 1-1 draw at Heidenheim helped Fürth to leapfrog Aue to secure a dramatic escape. The championship title went to Fortuna Düsseldorf, who scored in the last minute to win 3-2 at Nürnberg.10

MSV Duisburg

Davari - Wiegel, Bomheuer, Bajic (Nauber 58'), Wolze - Schnellhardt (Daschner 72'), Fröde - Stoppelkamp, Oliveira Souza, Gartner - Tashchy (Iljutcenko 82')

Head coach: Ilia Gruev


FC St. Pauli

Himmelmann - Koglin, Sobiech, Avevor, Dudziak (Buballa 46') - Kalla (Sobota 56'), Park, Neudecker (Allagui 78'), Møller Dæhli - Bouhaddouz, Diamantakos

Head coach: Markus Kauczinski


Goals: 1-0 Stoppelkamp (45'+2), 2-0 Gartner (90'+5)

Yellow cards: Gartner, Iljutcenko – Diamantakos, Neudecker

Referee: Deniz Aytekin

Attendance: 25,325


Photos: Witters