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FC St. Pauli lost 2-0 at Hansa Rostock on Sunday. The home side were the better side in the first half and raced to a two-goal lead early on through Kai Pröger and John Verhoek before squandering further opportunities before the break. After the restart, the Boys in Brown were again unable to leave their mark on the proceedings and eventually slipped to a deserved defeat, not least because of a poor first-half performance.

After the convincing 3-0 home win over Magdeburg last time out, head coach Timo Schultz named an unchanged side for the eagerly awaited contest at Rostock. The only change in the squad was the inclusion of versatile forward Etienne Amenyido in place of defensive midfielder Afeez Aremu. Hansa coach Jens Härtel made one adjustment after the 4-0 defeat at Darmstadt, Lukas Scherff starting for Svante Ingelsson.

The 21st meeting between the two sides kicked off five minutes late due to running repairs to one of the goal nets. None of the previous encounters had ended in a draw, with the most recent clash in April ending in a 1-0 defeat for the Boys in Brown to interrupt a run of six consecutive victories. The home side got off to the better start and when Johannes Eggestein lost the ball moving forward in the fourth minute Dennis Dressel sent Kai Pröger, who had sprung the offside trap, on his way. With just Dennis Smarsch to beat, he kept his cool and steered a low shot into the bottom right corner to open the scoring. Hansa pushed forward again soon after and Ryan Malone hit the outside of the post from an acute angle.

Confronted by an aggressive and compact home rearguard, the Boys in Brown struggled to get going forward in the opening stages. Whenever they did make their way into the opposition penalty area, either the final ball lacked precision or a Rostock foot was in the way. On the quarter-hour, Marcel Hartel delivered a corner into the middle for Igor Matanović to head towards goal, but the ball flew well over. Almost immediately, the hosts were celebrating again. The excellent Pröger was allowed to cross unchallenged to tee up former St. Pauli favourite John Verhoek for an overhead kick and there was nothing Smarsch could do to stop the ball finding the bottom-right corner from ten metres. Rostock were two up with 17 minutes gone.

The Boys in Brown fashioned their next chance from another corner on 22, but this time Jackson Irvine put his effort left of the Hansa goal. At the other end, Lukas Scherff blasted over the top from range before Jakov Medić just managed to steal the ball away from Sebastien Thill with the Rostock player shaping to shoot. It could have been 3-0 soon after when Pröger scampered down the left channel, only to direct his shot past the angle with just Smarsch to beat. The pattern remained the same – the Boys in Brown lacked the means to unlock the Rostock defence, while the home side posed a constant threat on the break, repeatedly capitalising on cheap losses of possession to create decent opportunities.

Schultz responded five minutes before the break and introduced Etienne Amenyido for Igor Matanović. Rostock had another chance to make it 3-0, however. Fortunately, Pröger was unable to direct a Thill cross over the line from close range. Eggestein then saw a shot blocked by Damian Rossbach following Irvine's dink on the stroke of half-time and it remained 2-0 to the home side when the referee blew his whistle a few moments later.

Rostock's Kai Pröger beats Dennis Smarsch in the fourth minute.

Rostock's Kai Pröger beats Dennis Smarsch in the fourth minute.

The Boys in Brown emerged for the second half needing to up their game if they were to avoid defeat. Schultz elected not to make any further changes for the time being, as did Rostock boss Jens Härtel. Despite dictating the play in what was a very fair contest, his charges were rarely able to penetrate into the penalty area, with the home side happy to sit back and wait for a chance to counter. On 51 minutes, an undercooked headed clearance from a Lukas Daschner cross landed at the feet of  Irvine, but he fired well over from 18 metres. Hansa stepped up a gear and Nico Neidhart dragged a shot off target from the right-hand corner of the penalty area before Dressel hit a long-range effort straight at Smarsch.

In the ensuing period, the Schultz XI continued to hog the possession but lacked the ideas and pace in their passing game to create a threat, leaving Hansa keeper Markus Kolke with no meaningful saves to make. Smarsch, on the other hand, had to race out of his goal in the 69th minute to nick the ball off substitute Morris Schröter with the alarm bells ringing. Schultz then made two double switches, throwing on Betim Fazliji and Luca Zander for David Nemeth and Manolis Saliakas on 71 and David Otto and Carlo Boukhalfa for Eric Smith and Johannes Eggestein six minutes later.

The changes made little difference, though. Rostock continued to keep such a tight ship that the Boys in Brown struggled to penetrate and, on the rare occasions they did find a way through, they lacked punch in the final third. The home side's counterattacking power dwindled in the closing stages but they saw the game out to complete a deserved 2-0 victory after Kolke had turned a long-range effort by Daschner over the crossbar in time added on.

Hansa Rostock

Kolke - Malone, Fröde, Rossbach - Neidhart (Strauss 89'), Thill (Duljević 80'), Rhein, Scherff (Schumacher 89'), Dressel - Pröger (Schröter 64'), Verhoek (Hinterseer 64')

Head coach: Jens Härtel


FC St. Pauli

Smarsch - Saliakas (Zander 71'), Nemeth (Fazliji 71'), Medić, Paqarada - Smith (Boukhalfa 77'), Irvine, Hartel, Daschner - Eggestein (Otto 77'), Matanović (Amenyido 40')

Head coach: Timo Schultz


Goals: 1-0 Pröger (4'), 2-0 Verhoek (17')

Yellow cards: Malone, Rossbach - Daschner, Paqarada

Referee: Christian Dingert (Gries)

Attendance: 26,000


Photos: Witters