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FC St. Pauli won 3-2 at challengers FC Nürnberg on Sunday. Guido Burgstaller and Leart Paqarada gave their side an early lead in front of 8,479 spectators before Johannes Geis pulled one back for the hosts. Substitute Adam Dźwigała restored the two-goal advantage midway through the second half but Manuel Schäffler dragged Nürnberg back into on 72. The Boys in Brown held on, however, to return to the top of the table.

The startling lineup featured two changes to the side that beat Sandhausen 3-1 in midweek. Jackson Irvine slotted into the right of the midfield diamond for Finn Ole Becker, while Igor Matanović made his first start in more than ten months alongside Guido Burgstaller in place of Simon Makienok, who was ruled out by a knee problem. Head coach Timo Schultz did not make the trip to Nürnberg after testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. His place on the touchline was taken by assistant coaches Loïc Favé and Fabian Hürzeler. FCN coach Robert Klaus also made two adjustments to the team that claimed a last-gasp 2-1 win at Sandhausen last time out, goalscorers Erik Shuranov and Manuel Schäffler replacing Nikola Dovedan and Taylan Duman.

The Boys in Brown went into the game looking for at least a point to take them back to the top of the table following Darmstadt's 2-1 win at Erzgebirge Aue on Saturday. And they certainly hit the ground running, taking the lead with just three minutes on the clock! Leart Paqarada delivered the ball into the box from the left with his weaker right foot and found Guido Burgstaller, who directed an unstoppable glancing header beyond FCN keeper Christian Mathenia into the far corner to open the scoring. Yet there was more to come, and Paqarada and Burgstaller were at the heart of it once again. Igor Matanović slipped the ball to Burgstaller on the left and his square ball was tailormade for Paqarada to pass the ball into the bottom right-hand corner with his right foot from the edge of the box. Two-nil with ten minutes gone!

Stunned by the early onslaught, the home side hit back and created a string of good chances. James Lawrence had to get in the way of a long-range drive from former St. Pauli favourite Mats Møller Dæhli after 13 minutes and then it was time for the Nikola Vasilj show. The shot-stopper produced three magnificent saves to deny Lino Tempelmann, Manuel Schäffler and Erik Shuranov and then defused another effort from Shuranov. There was nothing he could do in the 21st minute, however. Johannes Geis, who is a known threat from distance, was allowed space to pull the trigger from outside the box and though Vasilj got his fingertips to it he could not prevent the ball finding the top-left corner off the underside of the crossbar.

Undaunted, the Schultz XI headed up the other end and fashioned two chances within a minute. First, Burgstaller was denied from a tight angle by Mathenia following a corner, and then Marcel Hartel curled the ball just past the angle from just outside the area. Soon after the Boys in Brown had to make an enforced substitution when Leart Paqarada went off carrying a knock and was replaced by Lars Ritzka. After a brief lull in the proceedings, the visitors registered the next opportunity on 37 when Enrico Valentini stopped Matanović on his way into the box with a sliding tackle and Burgstaller collected the loose ball before unleashing a shot from just outside the box. Mathenia got down to his left to prevent the ball from sneaking into the bottom-right corner, however. The Nurnberg custodian then produced another stop to thwart Ritzka from range in time added on and so it remained 2-1 at the break.

Igor Matanović under challenge from Nürnberg's Asger Sörensen (left) and Christopher Schindler.

Igor Matanović under challenge from Nürnberg's Asger Sörensen (left) and Christopher Schindler.

A light fall of snow greeted the Boys in Brown on their return to the field, with Adam Dźwigała now on for Sebastian Ohlsson. The opening stages were dominated by the home side, however. Three minutes in, Tom Kraus dispatched a cross from the right to the far post, where Manuel Schäffler would have had the simple task of nodding home had Philipp Ziereis not produced a stunning acrobatic intervention to clear the ball with his outstretched foot. Soon after, Vasilj stuck out a foot to keep out a Krauss effort from a tight angle.

The hosts maintained the pressure. Møller Dæhli knocked the ball into the path of Shuranov and Jackson Irvine nipped in to take the ball off his toe with a sliding tackle just as the striker was shaping to shoot. The passing was too sloppy in the opening stages of the second half and another wayward ball set up Krauss to shoot from 20 metres, but Vasilj got down low to keep his effort out of the bottom-right corner. The Boys in Brown finally found some respite at the other end and Burgstaller fired over from range after playing a one-two with Daniel-Kofi Kyereh. Dźwigała then went one better. Kyereh ran into traffic in the box, but the home side failed to clear their lines, allowing Dźwigała to control the ball with his knee and fire a pinpoint right-foot shot into the far corner from 14 metres to restore his team's two-goal advantage.

Nürnberg pushed forward again, and Møller Dæhli was denied by Vasilj with a shot that proved too close to the keeper. Christopher Schindler then headed well over from a corner but three minutes later the home side reduced the deficit again from a Møller Dæhli corner. Schäffler rose to meet the incoming ball and found the far corner with his header.

The Boys in Brown responded with a double substitution, Afeez Aremu and Christopher Buchtmann entering the fray for Eric Smith and Igor Matanović. Kyereh forced his way into the box from the left and his shot took a deflection before flying just wide of the far post.

Instead of setting up camp in their own half, the Schultz XI continued to push forward n a bid to relieve the pressure. Nürnberg threw everything forward in the closing stages, but the Boys in Brown stood firm and made intelligent use of their possession to secure a 3-2 win and return to the top of the table.

FC Nürnberg

Mathenia - Valentini, Schindler, Sörensen, Handwerker - Geis (Nürnberger 69'), Krauss (Schleimer 69'), Tempelmann (Köpke 84'), Møller Dæhli - Schäffler, Shuranov (Duman 69')

Head coach: Robert Klauss


FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Ohlsson (Dźwigała 46'), Ziereis, Lawrence, Paqarada (Ritzka 27') - Smith (Aremu 74'), Hartel, Irvine, Kyereh (Dittgen 90'+1) - Matanović (Buchtmann 74'), Burgstaller

Coaching team: Loïc Favé, Fabian Hürzeler


Goals: 0-1 Burgstaller (3'), 0-2 Paqarada (10'), 1-2 Geis (21'), 1-3 Dźwigała (64'), 2-3 Schäffler (72')

Yellow cards: Burgstaller, Hartel

Referee: Sven Waschitzki (Essen)

Attendance: 8,479


Photos: Witters