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EARLY SOBOTA STRIKE NOT ENOUGH TO PREVENT 3-1 DEFEAT BY WOLFSBURG

FC St. Pauli lost the first of the three friendlies scheduled for the winter break, going down 3-1 to VfL Wolfsburg in Marbella on Friday afternoon. Waldemar Sobota gave the Boys in Brown an early lead but the Wolves turned the game round with goals by Jeffrey Bruma, Victor Osimhen and Daniel Didavi.

Head coach Markus Kauczinski was without Bernd Nehrig (calf), Lasse Sobiech (ankle) and Mats Møller Dæhli (groin) for the meeting with the 12th-placed Bundesliga outfit and opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Aziz Bouhaddouz as the lone striker. Both sides made a bright start to the game, but it was the Boys in Brown who struck first on five minutes. Waldemar Sobota won possession in the opposition half and, after an exchange of passes with Sami Allagui, burst into the penalty box before beating Koen Casteels with a neat chip into the far corner.

The joy proved short-lived, however, as Yunus Malli swung in a corner for Jeffrey Bruma to power a header past Philipp Heerwagen off the inside of the post with 12 minutes on the clock. That came after Clemens Schoppenhauer had blocked a Joshua Guilavogui effort and Heerwagen had turned a Josip Brekalo shot round for the corner. Both sides continued to create chances. Allagui fired over under pressure in the 13th minute and then Sobota was denied by Casteels. At the other end Heerwagen had to defuse a shot by Riechedly Bazoer.

The tempo remained high, but the chances dried up, at least until the 26th minute that is, when Wolfsburg edged ahead. Josuha Guilavogui knocked a long ball forward to Divock Origi, who delivered a low cross into the middle for the unmarked Victor Osimhen to tap home from close range. Kauczinski's side almost drew level on 35 when Bouhaddouz found Maurice Litka, who neatly turned his marker only to be denied by Casteels at the near post. Moments later Schoppenhauer had to be alert to get in the way of Osimhen's shot from just inside the box. Then, on the stroke of half time, Casteels produced a smart reaction save to keep out Bouhaddouz's effort from a tight angle.

Aziz Bouhaddouz pulls the trigger on the stroke of half time - Jeffrey Bruma arrives too late but Koen Casteels (out of shot) was on hand to make the save.

Aziz Bouhaddouz pulls the trigger on the stroke of half time - Jeffrey Bruma arrives too late but Koen Casteels (out of shot) was on hand to make the save.

Kauczinski rang the changes at the interval, with Heerwagen, captain for the day in the absence of Nehrig and Sobiech, the only player to re-emerge for the second half. Wolfsburg coach Martin Schmidt, in contrast, made just one change, Sebastian Jung replacing Gian-Luca Itter.

With both teams solid at the back and keeping chances to a premium, the second half was not as lively as the first. But the game burst into life on 59 when Ersin Zehir fed Thibaud Verlinden, who unleashed a curling effort from the left-hand corner of the penalty box that was defused by Casteels. Jung got forward to test Heerwagen, who was alert to the danger, before Wolfsburg made a string of substitutions. Kauczinski's side continued to defend well but were lucky not to give away a penalty on 72 when Brian Koglin brought down Landry Dimata in the box.

The St. Pauli boss made one more change in the 81st minute, introducing Philipp Ziereis to end a seven-month injury layoff. Just seconds after entering the fray, however, Ziereis could only look on as the unmarked Daniel Didavi headed home a Paul Verhaegh to seal a 3-1 victory for the Bundesliga outfit.

"Aside from the result I'm very pleased, I saw a lot of good things," said Kauczinski afterwards. "We had some good chances and could have scored more, especially in the first half, but Wolfsburg's goals came too easily. For me it was important to see all the players under pressure against decent opposition." Commenting on the return to action of Philipp Ziereis and the performance of potential loanee Thibaud Verlinden, the 47-year-old said: "It was just a brief run-out for Philipp as we want to ease him back in gently. We're being cautious because he hasn't really trained with the rest of the squad yet, but it was important for him to get a taster and make his first tentative steps. I'm really pleased for him. Thibaud showed some good signs and had good chances that he could have made more of. He isn't fully fit yet and still has ground to make up, but you can see he's got talent."

 

FC St. Pauli

1st half: Heerwagen - Kalla, Schoppenhauer, Avevor, Keller - Flum, Dudziak - Litka, Allagui, Sobota - Bouhaddouz

2nd half: Heerwagen - Zander, Park, Koglin, Buballa - Zehir, Neudecker - Sahin (Ziereis 81'), Choi, Verlinden - Schneider

Head coach: Markus Kauczinski

 

VfL Wolfsburg

Casteels - G. Itter (Jung 46'), Bruma (Knoche 65'), Uduokhai (Tisserand 65'), William (Verhaegh 65'), Brekalo (Gerhardt 65'), Guilavogui (Arnold 65'), Malli (Didavi 65'), Bazoer (Hinds 65'), Osimhen (Ntep 65'), Origi (Dimata 65')

Head coach: Martin Schmidt

 

Goals: 1-0 Sobota (5'.), 1-1 Bruma (11'), 1-2 Osimhen (26'), 1-3 Didavi (81')

Attendance: approx. 150

 

Photos: Witters

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