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FC St. Pauli, so impressive recently, slipped to a heavy 4-0 defeat at Holstein Kiel on Friday evening, their fourth reverse since the turn of the year. Two goals in three minutes from Ahmet Arslan and Fin Bartels gave Kiel a first-half advantage, with old boy Bartels and Janni Serra stretching their lead after the interval. The Boys in Brown were unable to match the effectiveness of the Storks as they crashed to their biggest defeat of the season.

Head coach Timo Schultz saw no reason to make any adjustments after the 2-1 home win over Greuther Fürth and named an unchanged side for the short trip north. Kiel boss Ole Werner, in contrast, made two changes to the team that beat Sandhausen at home on Tuesday evening, Alexander Mühling and Finn Porath coming on for Jae-sung Lee and Fabian Reese. The Storks went into the game knowing a win would take them to within a point of Fürth and a step closer to their first-ever promotion to the Bundesliga, while an 11th victory for the Boys in Brown in what has been an outstanding run since the turn of the year would see them equal the previous club record set in the 2016/17 season of 34 points in the second half of the season.

The fixture pitted the league's meanest defence against the most prolific attacking force of 2021 so far, and though both teams looked to get forward from the off, the opening exchanges produced no chances of any description at either end. It was the Boys in Brown who registered the first attempt on goal with 11 minutes on the clock. Luca Zander delivered a low ball in from the right to the unmarked Guido Burgstaller, whose shot from the edge of the box took a slight deflection and fizzed just past the right-hand upright. The resulting corner eventually ended with Kiel keeper Thomas Dähne pulling off an excellent last-ditch reflex save to keep out a backheel from Daniel-Kofi Kyereh after Burgstaller had whipped the ball in from the right.

Buoyed by the double chance, the Schultz XI enjoyed more of the play, though Kiel posed a constant threat with their rapid counterthrusts. Dejan Stojanović was called upon for the first time following an undercooked clearance on 19, gathering an Ahmet Arslan shot from the edge of the box at the second attempt. There was nothing the keeper could do two minutes later, however. Kiel won possession just outside the area and proceeded to combine their way into the danger zone, where Janni Serra laid the ball off for Arslan to slide home from ten metres. And the third-placed side doubled their advantage less than three minutes later. Serra dispatched a pass from the halfway line into the path of Fin Bartels and he burst into the box before angling a shot across Stojanović and into the far corner.

It remained a high-intensity affair in which the Boys in Brown had opportunities to reduce the deficit. A ball from Omar Marmoush to Burgstaller, who was clean through on goal, proved a touch too long, and then Burgstaller was denied by Dähne following a pass from Finn Ole Becker, the keeper sticking out a hand to divert the ball a whisker past the post. The home side went even closer at the other end four minutes later when Stojanović was unable to hang onto a shot from Finn Porath and had to claw the ball off the line with a full-length dive. It went to VAR, who ruled that it had not crossed. Far from letting their heads drop, the Boys in Brown continued to edge the possession, but they lacked the clinical efficiency in front of goal displayed by Kiel and it remained 2-0 at the break.

As in this situation, it was a constant battle between Omar Marmoush and Simon Lorenz.

As in this situation, it was a constant battle between Omar Marmoush and Simon Lorenz.

Kiel's Niklas Hauptmann replaced Jonas Meffert for the second half, while the Boys in Brown reappeared unchanged. But their hopes of staging a recovery suffered a major blow when the home side extended their lead less than four minutes in. Porath exchanged passes with Serra before knocking the ball in behind the St. Pauli defence for Bartels to score with a lovely half-volley from 18 metres.

Becker then created a good opportunity for himself four minutes later, but his shot was blocked. The home side were happy to let the Schultz XI come at them but closed the space down so well that the visitors increasingly struggled to find a way through the tightest rearguard the league has to offer.

With an hour gone, Schultz opted to make a triple change, introducing Adam Dźwigała, Lukas Daschner and Maximilian Dittgen for James Lawrence, Omar Marmoush and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh. The pattern remained the same, however. St. Pauli had more of the ball, while Kiel remained effective and absolutely clinical in front of goal. A distance effort from Hauptmann proved too hot to handle for Stojanović, and Serra was on hand to make it 4-0 on the rebound.

The pace of the game dropped in the ensuing period, not least because of a string of substitutions by both sides, with the result that there were no further chances of note until the second minute of time added on when Rodrigo Zalazar screwed a shot wide on the turn. It has been an impressive second half of the campaign to date for the Boys in Brown but it wasn't to be on this occasion and they were condemned to their heaviest defeat of the season by high-flying Kiel.

Holstein Kiel

Dähne - Neumann (Dehm 70'), Wahl, Lorenz, Van den Bergh - Mühling, Meffert (Hauptmann 46'), Arslan - Bartels (Mees 70'), Serra (Girth 75'), Porath (Reese 52')

Head coach: Ole Werner


FC St. Pauli

Stojanović - Zander, Ziereis, Lawrence (Dźwigała 61'), Paqarada (Buballa 76') - Benatelli (Viet 69'), Becker, Zalazar, Kyereh (Daschner 61') - Marmoush (Dittgen 61'), Burgstaller

Head coach: Timo Schultz


Goals: 1-0 Arslan (21'), 2-0 Bartels (24'), 3-0 Bartels (49'), 4-0 Serra (68')

Yellow cards: Arslan, Lorenz

Referee: Frank Willenborg (Osnabrück)


Photos: Witters


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