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GRIFO MAKES THE DIFFERENCE AS BOYS IN BROWN GO DOWN 3-0 IN FREIBURG FRIENDLY

FC St. Pauli were beaten 3-0 in a friendly at Bundesliga outfit SC Freiburg on Thursday evening. Vincenzo Grifo bagged a first-half brace in front of almost 15,000 fans at the brand-new Europa Park Stadium before Nishan Burkart added a third after the interval.

Head coach Timo Schultz was without five internationals plus a number of injured players for the friendly at SC Freiburg. The official inauguration of the Europa Park Stadium therefore offered him an opportunity to give a runout to players who have had few or no minutes at all this season. Freiburg, who sit fourth in the Bundesliga, were also without several internationals, but the side picked by coach Christian Streich was still full of quality.

A crowd of almost 15,000 saw a lively encounter from the off at Freiburg's new home, with both teams looking to get forward at pace, but it was the Boys in Browns who created the first few chances. In the third minute, Guido Burgstaller headed just wide of the left-hand upright from a Marcel Hartel cross. Christopher Buchtmann then dragged a shot off target, and moments later Burgstaller did the same from distance. At the other end, Janik Haberer fizzed a shot just wide. Two minutes later, his teammate Vincenzo Grifo went one better, curling an unstoppable shot beyond Dennis Smarsch into the top corner from the edge of the box. The midfielder, who scored the last ever goal at Freiburg's old stadium in the 3-0 defeat of Augsburg two weeks ago, thus became the first player to score in the new one.

The home side edged the possession in the ensuing period, but it was the Boys in Brown who fashioned the next two chances. When Burgstaller was denied by Benjamin Uphoff in the Freiburg goal, Lars Ritzka met the rebound first time, only for Uphoff to turn his effort over the crossbar. Within minutes, it was 2-0 to the hosts. An attack down the right culminated in the ball finding Grifo, who steered a pinpoint effort past the powerless Smarsch into the bottom-right corner of the goal. After Christian Günter had missed the target by some distance, Under-23 forward Aurel Loubongo was presented with an opportunity to pull one back for the Boys in Brown when Uphoff fumbled a ball into the box. His shot on the turn went wide of the goal, however. There were no further opportunities in the final ten minutes and so the two sides went in at the break with Freiburg two goals to the good.

FCSP keeper Dennis Smarsch stretches in vain as Vincenzo Grifo opens the scoring with a pinpoint effort into the top corner.

FCSP keeper Dennis Smarsch stretches in vain as Vincenzo Grifo opens the scoring with a pinpoint effort into the top corner.

Freiburg made just one change for the second 45, compared with six for the Boys in Brown. The pattern of the game remained much the same, however. Grifo had the first shot of the half, this time his curling effort flew a couple of metres wide of the target. In response, substitute Leart Paqarada crossed the ball to Rico Benatelli, whose shot would probably have gone in had it not taken a decisive deflection off an opponent. The Schultz XI continued to press against the well-marshalled Freiburg defence but were unable to carve out any further opportunities. Until the 64th minute, that is, when Hartel sent second-half sub Simon Makienok on his way with an exquisite pass. The Dane pulled the trigger from just outside the box but placed it too centrally and Uphoff made a comfortable save.

Then, it was quite literally lights out at the new arena. The floodlight failure lasted only 20 seconds, however, and play was able to continue after a brief interlude. Freiburg broke into the penalty area from the left and Maximilian Eggestein slid in to send a high ball to the corner of the goal area, where Nishan Burkart directed a looping header into the far corner to make it 3-0. The goal should not have been allowed to stand, however, as the ball had crossed the line before Eggestein's cross.

The Boys in Brown refused to lie down after going three down and continued to apply the pressure. But in the bid to reduce the deficit, they were unable to create any clear-cut chances in the face of a solid Freiburg rearguard. At the other end, a Dominik Heintz free-kick took a slight deflection and flew a whisker past the upright. Paqarada went even closer with a free-kick of his own minutes later when Uphoff got his fingertips to the ball to turn it onto the crossbar. In the closing stages, Smarsch produced two fine stops to deny Freiburg a fourth goal through Nicolas Höfler and Yannik Engelhardt and it ended 3-0.

"It's not a good result, as I'd have liked to have come away with something," said coach Timo Schultz after the game. "But it was a good runout for the lads who've been on the fringes for a while. They were able to get some minutes on a very respectable level. The whole package with the game, the stadium and the atmosphere was just right."

SC Freiburg

Uphoff - Gulde (Burkart 59'), Schlotterbeck, Heintz - Sildilla, Haberer (Leopold 82'), Eggestein (Flum 82'), Günter (Barbosa da Silva 59') - Grifo (Engelhardt 72'), Petersen (Risch 82'), Höler (Höfler 46')

Head coach: Christian Streich

 

FC St. Pauli

Smarsch - Wieckhoff (Zander 46'), Ziereis (Medić 46'), Dźwigała, Ritzka (Paqarada 46') - Aremu (Jessen 72'), Benatelli, Hartel, Buchtmann (Brandt 46'/Jessen 72') - Loubongo (Kukanda 46'), Burgstaller (Makienok 46')

Head coach: Timo Schultz

 

Goals: 1-0 Grifo (17'), 2-0 Grifo (29'), 3-0 Burkart (68')

Yellow cards: Barbosa da Silva – Aremu

Referee: Dr Matthias Jöllenbeck (Freiburg)

Attendance: 15,000

 

Photos: FC St. Pauli

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