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FC St. Pauli were held to a goalless draw by FC Magdeburg in front of a sell-out crowd at the Millerntor on Sunday. The Boys in Brown were the better side from the off but were unable to convert their superiority into goals and eventually had to settle for a third scoreless draw in succession.

Head coach Fabian Hürzeler made two changes after the scoreless draw at Greuther Fürth, David Nemeth and Andreas Albers coming in for Adam Dźwigała and Connor Metcalfe, while Magdeburg coach Christian Titz made one adjustment to the team that won 4-2 at Holstein Kiel, Tatsuya Itō beginning in place of Jason Çeka.

The home fans began with a choreo with the motto “Red card for police violence”, and on the pitch the sides went at it full tilt straight away without bothering to feel each other out. Magdeburg looked to disrupt the FCSP build-up play early, prompting the occasional long ball up to Andreas Albers, a tactic that worked perfectly in the sixth minute. Albers laid the ball off to Marcel Hartel, who fed Oladapo Afolayan on the right before the play was switched to Elias Saad on the left. The wide man cut inside at pace and pulled the trigger from just outside the box, and FCM keeper Dominik Reimann had his work cut out to make the save. Moments later, a half-cleared Manolis Saliakas corner landed at the feet of Albers, and his piledriver from 14 metres was battered away with both fists by Reimann.

Things quietened down momentarily, with much of the play unfolding in midfield, until a wayward pass from Reimann resulted in another chance for the Boys in Brown. Lars Ritzka collected the ball in the Magdeburg half and the ball found its way to Afolayan in the right channel via Hartel, but his shot was blocked by Daniel Heber. The Hürzeler XI were giving virtually nothing away at the back but had to remain vigilant against a decent Magdeburg side who were content to wait for a mistake and the opportunity to counter. In the 21st minute, another Saliakas corner was met by Albers, whose header flew wide of the far post. Five minutes later, amid further pressure, Ritzka pulled the trigger from 20 metres, but his aim was too central and Reimann made a comfortable save.

With the rain starting to come down, the Boys in Brown fashioned another chance in the 33rd minute when Afolayan whipped a cross into the middle. Saad was unable to latch onto it but his marker, Cristiano Piccini, almost put through his own net in attempting to clear, the ball trundling a whisker wide of the left-hand upright. Magdeburg, for their part, were largely anonymous in attack. The Hürzeler XI had the game totally under control but were unable to create any further chances of note and the half ended goalless.

Daniel Heber (left) makes a last-second block to deny Oladapo Afolayan on the quarter-hour.

Daniel Heber (left) makes a last-second block to deny Oladapo Afolayan on the quarter-hour.

Hürzeler sent out an unchanged team for the second half, while Magdeburg went with Luc Castaignos for Tatsuya Itō. The Boys in Brown fashioned the first chance almost immediately, Jackson Irvine heading a Hartel corner straight at Reimann on 47. It remained one-way traffic and when Eric Smith won possession in the Magdeburg half, Saad picked out Hartel in the box. The No10 did brilliantly to wrongfoot a defender, but his goalbound shot was charged down by Heber. Next, Albers cleverly shrugged off a challenge from Daniel Elfadli following a Ritzka throw-in and found himself clear with just Reimann to beat, but once again the keeper came out on top. Moments later, Hartel delivered another corner to Irvine, whose header was just too high. The opening goal was long overdue by this point.

With 54 minutes gone, the visitors created their first opportunity of the afternoon somewhat out of the blue when Castaignos knocked the ball into the path of Luca Schuler, but he got underneath it and hoofed his effort well over the bar. The chances were coming thick and fast now and within seconds Saad dispatched a perfect ball into the box for the advancing Irvine, whose header flew narrowly the wrong side of the post. The Australian was in the action again five minutes later, this time testing Reimann with a shot that looked destined for the far corner. Another corner saw Hartel chip an inch-perfect ball to the near post for Albers to head just wide. Moments later, Albers went close with a first-time volley from a Saliakas cross, Reimann making the save yet again.

The stats were now reading 20:1 attempts on goal in favour of the Boys in Brown and it was hard to believe it was still 0-0. And as is often the way, the visitors almost took the lead in the 70th minute. Chasing onto a long ball forward, Castaignos unleashed a shot that Vasilj could only parry, and the unmarked Schuler somehow directed the rebound wide of the goal from 14 metres to a sharp intake of breath from the home crowd. Hürzeler responded with his opening substitution, introducing Scott Banks for Elias Saad, and he was in the thick of things almost immediately, his shot from the inside-right channel was no problem for Reimann, however.

Reimann was proving simply unbeatable on the day, defusing another Afolayan effort on 77 before Hartel curled the ball just wide of the far post from range. The 25th attempt on goal in the 78th minute was equally unsuccessful. Hürzeler opted to make a double switch with eight minutes left, throwing on Philipp Treu and Connor Metcalfe for Manolis Saliakas and Oladapo Afolayan. And his team went for broke in the closing stages. Banks was denied again by Reimann in the 85th minute before Vasilj had to intervene a second time to keep out a near-post header from Elfadli from an Atik corner, which really would have turned the game on its head had it gone in. The Hürzeler XI drew a blank in the five minutes of time added on, leaving them to reflect on a third consecutive goalless draw in the league.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Wahl, Smith, Nemeth - Saliakas (Treu 82’), Irvine, Hartel, Ritzka - Afolayan (Metcalfe 82’), Albers (Eggestein 90’), Saad (Banks 73’)

Head corner: Fabian Hürzeler


FC Magdeburg

Reimann - El Hankouri, Piccini, Heber, Bell Bell - Elfadli - Condé (Gnaka 63’), Hugonet - Ito (Castaignos 46’), Schuler, Atik

Head coach: Christian Titz


Yellow cards: Nemeth, Irvine – El Hankouri, Atik, Bell Bell

Referee: Sven Jablonski (Bremen)

Attendance: 29,546 (sold out)


Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters