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HARD-FOUGHT WIN OVER SCHALKE TAKES BOYS IN BROWN SIX POINTS CLEAR

FC St. Pauli secured all three points against FC Schalke 04 in a high-intensity contest in front of 19,950 spectators at the Millerntor on Saturday night. After a Guido Burgstaller brace had given his side a 2-0 first-half lead, Rodrigo Zalazar halved the deficit with a quarter of an hour left, but the Boys in Brown held on to spark unbridled celebrations at the final whistle.

The starting line-up featured just one change compared with the 3-2 win at Nürnberg last week, Luca Zander coming in at right-back in place of Sebastian Ohlsson.

No quarter was given by either side from the off, and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh picked up an early a yellow card for a foul in midfield with just two minutes gone. The Boys in Brown edged the possession in the opening stages, and it was they who fashioned the first opportunity in the sixth minute. A whipped-in cross from Jackson Irvine found Igor Matanović, who wriggled his way out of a tight space in the box and was about to prod the ball home when Guido Burgstaller beat him to it and netted. The Austrian striker was in an offside position, however, and the goal was disallowed.

The disappointment over not taking an early lead dissipated in the 20th minute. Teed up by an excellent pass over the top from Matanovic, Burgstaller burst into the penalty area and rifled an unstoppable pinpoint drive beyond Martin Fraisl into the bottom left corner of the goal to send the Millerntor into raptures. The joy almost proved short-lived, however, as the visitors were presented with a glorious opportunity to equalise just two minutes later when Rodrigo Zalazar suddenly found himself unmarked in front of Nikola Vasilj. Thankfully, the former St. Pauli favourite screwed his shot narrowly off target.

After this furious opening, the game settled down slightly, though the Boys in Brown continued to threaten at will. Kyereh came very close to adding a second with a first-time effort from an Irvine cross, but Fraisl got his fingertips to it to turn the ball over the crossbar.

There was nothing the Schalke custodian could do ten minutes later, however. Leart Paqarada collected a short corner and dispatched the ball toward the near post, where Burgstaller directed a glancing header into the far corner to double his tally and the advantage. What a game!

A high-intensity contest unfolded in a cracking atmosphere

A high-intensity contest unfolded in a cracking atmosphere

A two-goal lead can prove deceptive, and the Boys in Brown were reminded of that shortly after the interval when Mehmet Aydin popped up unmarked in front of Nikola Vasilj. To the relief of the home fans, the Bosnian keeper produced a smart save to keep it at 2-0. For their part, the Boys in Brown had no joy at the other end ten minutes later. Irvine won possession to launch a rapid counterattack, and when Burgstaller went for goal, the ball took a deflection off a defender and Fraisl did well to adjust and make the save with his leg.

Schalker enjoyed slightly more possession at this stage of the game, though the Boys in Brown remained a threat on the break. With 63 minutes gone, Burgstaller picked out Kyereh on the charge. The ball eventually found its way back to the Austrian, whose crisp drive was diverted against the post by the outstretched foot of Marcel Hartel. It would not have counted even if it had gone in, however, as the midfielder was offside.

With 15 minutes to go, the game took a nervy turn when Schalke reduced the deficit, Thomas Ouwejan crossing for Zalazar, of all people, to head home. Just eight minutes later, the ball was in the net again. When the Boys in Brown lost possession, Schalke switched the play quickly and Ouwejan's shot-cum-cross took a big deflection and looped over the head of Vasilj and in. Fortunately, Marvin Pieringer had strayed into an offside position in the build-up, and the goal was chalked off.

In an intensive finish to the encounter, Schalke pressed hard for the equaliser. The Boys in Brown repelled every attack with every ounce of energy they had left, however. Just before the end, substitute Simon Makienok had the chance to kill the game off but directed his shot wide on the turn. Ultimately, it did not matter, as the Schultz XI hung on to claim all three points after four minutes of time added on.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Zander, Lawrence, Ziereis, Paqarada – Smith (Medić 85'), Irvine, Hartel, Kyereh (Buchtmann 90') – Burgstaller (Makienok 90'), Matanović (Dittgen 73')

Assistant coach: Loïc Favé

 

FC Schalke 04

Fraisl - Thiaw, Itakura, Kaminski - Aydin (Ranftl 73'), Palsson (Latza 73'), Ouwejan, Drexler, Zalazar – Pieringer, Dadashov (Topp 81')

Assistant coach: Sven Piepenbrock

Goals: 1-0 (Burgstaller 20'), 2-0 (Burgstaller 39'), 2-1 Zalazar (75')

Yellow cards: Kyereh – Thiaw, Zalazar

Referee: Marco Fritz

Attendance: 19,950

 

Photos: Witters

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