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DIAMANTAKOS ON TARGET IN 1-1 DRAW AT KARLSRUHE AS HIMMELMANN SAVES PENALTY

FC St. Pauli earned a 1-1 draw at Karlsruher SC on Saturday afternoon. A 55th minute strike from Dimitrios Diamantakos was cancelled out almost immediately by Jerome Gondorf. That came after Robin Himmelmann had saved an Änis Ben-Hatira penalty. The draw ensures the cushion to the relegation play-off spot remains at five points.

Having announced his intention to rotate going into the game on account of the busy schedule, head coach Jos Luhukay made four changes to this side for the trip to KSC. Viktor Gyökeres began for the ailing Ryo Miyaichi and Leo Østigård returned from suspension in place of Luca Zander. Striker Henk Veerman and experienced midfielder Johannes Flum also dropped to the bench, Rico Benatelli and Dimitrios Diamantakos starting instead. KSC coach Christian Eichner made just two changes to the team that drew 1-1 at Hannover 96 in midweek.

Both teams adopted a rather cautious approach early on with a strong focus on defence. It therefore took ten minutes for the first attempt on the Karlsruhe goal to materialise in the shape of a Gyökeres header. Owing to the close attentions of a defender, however, his effort failed to trouble KSC keeper Benjamin Uphoff. Marvin Wanitzek went closer at the other end five minutes later, forcing a decent save from Robin Himmelmann with a free-kick from range. Then, with 22 minutes gone, the best move of the day to that point by the visitors presented Diamantakos with the opportunity to shoot, but the Greek striker was unable to capitalise on the knockdown by Gyökeres.

With the exception of these half-chances, neither side was able to mount any danger. The best opportunity of the first period was therefore long in coming and resulted from a St. Pauli corner. A half-clearance fell to Benatelli, who unleashed a first-time volley from the edge of the box that clipped the crossbar instead of going in. Waldemar Sobota then directed a shot slightly too high, ensuring the two sides went in goalless at the break.

The first half at Karlsruhe produced plenty of skirmishes, as here between Diamantakos and Lukas Fröde, but few highlights.

The first half at Karlsruhe produced plenty of skirmishes, as here between Diamantakos and Lukas Fröde, but few highlights.

Neither coach made a change at the interval despite the substandard quality of the first half. Nevertheless, the second period began with a bang, referee Markus Schmidt pointing to the spot, after hesitating slightly, when James Lawrence brought down Philipp Hofmann in the box. But as against Heidenheim during the week, Himmelmann prevented his side from going behind, this time by diving the right way to gather Änis Ben-Hatira's spot-kick.

Instead, it was the Boys in Brown who took the lead. Diamantakos latched onto to an undercooked header by Daniel Gordon back to Uphoff, knocked the ball past the keeper and slotted into the empty net. The joy was short-lived, however, as Jerome Gondorf escaped the St. Pauli rearguard's attentions to steer a cross from substitute Lukas Grozurek over the line less than two minutes later.

Faced with the early pressing game of the home side, the Boys in Brown struggled to break free after the equaliser. Luhukay responded with the introduction of Flum for Marvin Knoll in the 66th minute. The St. Pauli boss then handed Maxi Franzke his first-team debut. The midfielder and Luca Zander replaced James Lawrence and Luis Coordes. By this time the quality of the game had returned to the level of the first period. The home side had more possession but were unable to do anything with it, while the Boys in Brown struggled to make use of their few opportunities to break.

A super save from Himmelmann to defuse a header from Hofmann on 79 marked the start of the closing stages. At the other end, Flum could have restored his side's lead, but after collecting a cross from Diamantakos, he curled the ball just past the upright. The home side came closer to winning it in the last few minutes, but neither Anton Fink nor Hofmann, again, were able to find a decisive finish, allowing the Boys in Brown to take a point home from Karlsruhe at the end of a busy week.

FC St. Pauli

Himmelmann – Ohlsson, Østigård, Lawrence (Zander 75'), Buballa – Benatelli, Knoll (Flum 66') – Coordes (Franzke 75'), Sobota (Tashchy 85'), Gyökeres – Diamantakos (Veerman 85')

Head coach: Jos Luhukay

 

Karlsruher SC

Uphoff - Stiefler, Gordon, Pisot, Carlson - Gondorf, Fröde (Fink 84'), Wanitzek - Djuricin (Grozurek 55'), Hofmann, Ben-Hatira (Lorenz 55')

Head coach: Christian Eichner

 

Goals: 0-1 Diamantakos (55'), 1-1 Gondorf (57')

Incidents of note: Himmelmann saves a Ben-Hatira penalty (49')

Yellow cards: Hofmann, Gondorf, Stiefler - Ohlsson, Luhukay

Referee: Markus Schmidt

 

Photos: Witters

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