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UNBEATEN RUN ENDS AT MAGDEBURG

FC St. Pauli slipped to a 1-0 defeat at FC Magdeburg on Saturday afternoon. In an evenly balanced contest, the home side capitalised on a huge defensive mistake to notch the only goal of the game through Bariş Atik. The Boys in Brown threw everyone forward in a bid to ward off their first league defeat since April 2023 but their efforts were to prove in vain.

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler went with the same 11 players who started the 3-2 home win over Greuther Fürth for the trip to Magdeburg. The only change came on the bench, with Connor Metcalfe coming into the 20-man squad for Etienne Amenyido, who is nursing a slight muscle injury. Jackson Irvine, like Metcalfe back from the Asian Cup, is ill and missed out. FCM boss Christian Titz made four changes to the team that 1-1 with Holstein Kiel, Daniel Elfadli, Herbert Bockhorn, Leon Bell Bell and Markus Schuler replacing Andi Hoti, Jason Ceka, Luc Castaignos and the suspended Jean Hugonet.

The Hürzeler XI went to Magdeburg with a chance of setting a new second division record of 26 games unbeaten, fully aware, however, that the home side are no pushovers. Far more important than the record was the opportunity to widen the gap to the chasing pack with a win, given that our crosstown rivals had lost 4-3 at home to Hannover 96 on Friday evening. The game kicked off in bright sunshine and the 2,700 FCSP fans saw an early chance in the fifth minute when Oladapo Afolayan picked out Johannes Eggestein in the box, and his shot on the turn took a decisive deflection. Six minutes later, Philipp Treu fired well wide from distance following a corner.

The Boys in Brown started well, stifling the home side with a high press and forcing them to resort to long punts upfield to get close to the box. In contrast, the Hürzeler XI passed their way forward several times, albeit without creating further chances of note for the time being. A wayward pass in the build-up then led to a decent chance for the home side on 13 minutes. Xavier Amaechi fed Herbert Bockhorn, who unloaded from the right-hand channel, but Nikola Vasilj stuck his right foot out to prevent his side from going behind.

On a heavy, bobbly pitch, much of the play unfolded between the two penalty areas in the ensuing period until FCM created the next chance on 25. Bariş Atik passed to Luca Schuler, who shot just over. The Boys in Brown struggled to break down the well-marshalled Magdeburg defence in this phase. Vasilj had no trouble with a distance effort from Silas Gnaka on 34, and 60 seconds later Manolis Saliakas tested Dominik Reimann from range, but again the keeper had no problem making the save. Four minutes before the break Oladapo Afolayan directed a glancing header wide of the far post from a Marcel Hartel corner. At the other end, Atik teed up Mohammed El Hankouri, but on the uneven surface he wedged his shot into the stands to send the two sides in goalless at the break.

Elias Saad challenges Herbert Bockhorn for the ball.

Elias Saad challenges Herbert Bockhorn for the ball.

While the Boys in Brown emerged unchanged, Magdeburg made a like-for-like switch, Luc Castaignos coming on for Luca Schuler. The first chance fell to the Hürzeler XI four minutes in when Aljoscha Kemlein was allowed time to cross from the right and Eggestein headed the bouncing ball towards goal, only for Reimann to complete a diving save. Both teams operated a high press, a tactic that worked much better for the Boys in Brown, resulting in several chances. Hartel broke into the box from left and lofted a ball in behind the retreating defence for the advancing Afolayan, but his effort was well off target.

Magdeburg threatened for the first time on the hour, Gnaka blazing over from 20 metres, and then Castaignos latched onto a long ball forward and bore down on Vasilj. Under challenge from Eric Smith, the Magdeburg striker was unable to get a controlled shot off and Vasilj produced a decent save. Hürzeler made his first substitution soon after, introducing Connor Metcalfe for Elias Saad. And the Australian almost gave his side the lead within a minute from an excellent ball in from Eggestein but was denied by Reimann. Gnaka then tried to catch Vasilj out of position from 50 metres – too high.

Aljoscha Kemlein made way for Carlo Boukhalfa, but it was Metcalfe not he who had the next chance, his right-foot drive from just outside the box taking a decisive deflection off Daniel Heber. It remained a high-intensity affair as both sides went in search of victory in the closing stages, without taking too many risks. But then a wayward ball from Vasilj led to FCM taking the lead. His pass to Karol Mets at the left-hand corner of the box was undercooked, allowing Amaechi to nip in and find Atik, who slotted into the empty net from seven metres.

That left the Boys in Brown 20 minutes to ward off their first league defeat since April 2023, but FCM held firm at the back, prompting Hürzeler to make a triple substitution, including two burly strikers in Maurides and Andreas Albers. It proved to be in vain, though, as his side were unable to unlock the Magdeburg defence, ensuring their 25-game unbeaten run finally came to an end.

FC Magdeburg

Reimann - Müller, Elfadli, Heber - Bockhorn, Gnaka (Hoti 90'), El Hankouri, Bell Bell (Krempicki 57') - Amaechi (Nollenberger 86'), Schuler (Castaignos 46'), Atik

Cheftrainer: Christian Titz

 

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Wahl, Smith, Mets - Saliakas (Maurides 82'), Kemlein (Boukhalfa 66'), Hartel, Treu (Ritzka 82') - Afolayan, Eggestein (Albers 82'), Saad (Metcalfe 62')

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler

 

Goal: 1-0 Atik (72')

Yellow cards: El Hankouri – Kemlein, Saliakas

Referee: Dr Max Burda (Berlin)

 

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witter

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