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FC St. Pauli started the season with a 2-1 win at FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday afternoon. Elias Saad and Marcel Hartel got the goals in front of 40,000 spectators either side of Ragnar Ache’s equaliser.

New signing Andreas Albers made his first start for the Boys in Brown on the opening day of the 2023/24 campaign. “Andreas has earned his place in the starting lineup,” said head coach Fabian Hürzeler before the kick-off. “He’s incredibly important with his physicality and the runs that he makes. The Dane’s fellow new recruits, Hauke Wahl, Danel Sinani and Philipp Treu, also featured in the squad, all three beginning on the bench.

Lars Ritzka was asked to patrol the left flank in a show of confidence from Hürzeler, his first start since the 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Braunschweig in Round 11 last season. For the opposition, Tobias Raschl and Jan Elvedi were handed their first starts for their new club, while World Cup winner Erik Durm slotted in on the right side of defence in place of the suspended Jean Zimmer. 

In the opening quarter of an hour, the Boys in Brown attempted to seize control of the proceedings and create chances with some assured passing and quick combination play going forward. They threatened for the first time on 11 minutes when a double one-two between Marcel Hartel and Elias Saad ended with the former unloading in the penalty box. FCK keeper Andreas Luthe was going the wrong way but recovered brilliantly to turn the ball round the post.

The home side made their first appearance in front of Nikola Vasilj’s goal in the 24th minute. Hendrick Zuck unleashed two shots in the box, but the St. Pauli rearguard held firm and blocked both efforts. The Hürzeler XI continued to hog the possession but clear-cut chances remained at a premium at both ends and the half ended goalless.

Elias Saad celebrates after opening the scoring.

Elias Saad celebrates after opening the scoring.

Both teams emerged unchanged for the second half. There was a change in the 51st minute, however, and it came on the scoreboard when Jackson Irvine dinked a lovely ball over the top for the advancing Saad to take the ball round the onrushing Luthe and tap the ball into the empty net to open the scoring. 

The home side came more into it after going behind, partly because of two substitutions by head coach Dirk Schuster, changes that paid off in the 65th minute when new acquisition Ragnar Ache was perfectly placed to head home the equaliser. The game picked up pace and substitute Dapo Afolayan almost restored his team’s lead off his back two minutes later when Irvine flicked on a header, but Luthe was on hand to make the save.

After a brief spell of Lautern pressure the Boys in Brown began to threaten again and got the reward for their attacking efforts on 75 when Marcel Hartel was brought down in the box and picked himself up to convert the resulting penalty with aplomb.

The Hürzeler XI had to survive a Kaiserslautern rally in the closing stages. Hauke Wahl, Philipp Treu and Danel Sinani were all handed their competitive debuts and did their bit to secure all three points.

FC Kaiserslautern

Luthe (C) - Durm, Elvedi, Tomiak, Zuck (Puchacz 60’) - Ritter, Niehues, Raschl (Klement 78’) - Opoku (Zolinski 72’), Lobinger (Ache 60’), Redondo (Hercher 72’)

Head coach: Dirk Schuster


FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Medić, Smith, Mets - Saliakas, Irvine (C), Hartel, Ritzka (Treu 78’) - Metcalfe (Afolayan 63), Albers (Wahl 78’), Saad (Sinani 87’)

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler


Goals: 0-1 Saad (51’), 1-1 Ache (65’), 1-2 Hartel (pen. 75’)

Yellow cards: Ritter, Zolinski – Mets

Referee: Robert Schröder (Hannover)

Attendance: 40,000


Photos: FC St. Pauli