Let’s not forget about the 2. Bundesliga. While it’s not got the glamour of being the best national league in Germany, and it’s a few matchdays ahead of its older brother, there are still interesting games on offer for anyone wishing to catch a glimpse. One of those was today’s clash between Saxony-based Erzgebirge Aue, fresh from knocking out top division Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in the DFB-Pokal, and 1.FC Köln, who also made it through to the second round of domestic knockout competition, albeit against lower league opposition in SpVgg Unterhaching.
Both sides have only claimed a point apiece so far this season, Köln drawing with Sandhausen in their last 2. Bundesliga outing, while Aue have to go back to the season opener against St Pauli for their solitary point. With this in mind, could this game be the catalyst to springboard one of these sides out of their early season slumber?
Many games in the 2. Bundesliga this season have started off slowly, but not this affair. In the first minute, industrious forward Jakub Sylvestr was already in on goal, but failed to get a shot away. Down the other end, Aue goalkeeper Martin Männel played a free kick straight to Köln’s Lehmann, who fired an ambitious shot straight over with Männel all at sea. Both sides continued to feel their way into the game, with Köln retaining the vast majority of possession but Aue carrying more forward intent.
Aue’s intent to get goals, inspired by a Erzgebirgsstadion-full of fans baying for Kölner blood, was rewarded in the eighth minute, Sylvestr skipping past two defenders before threading Fabian Müller through, who took on Kevin Pezzoni and duly rolled the ball past Timo Horn. 1-0, and at this rate there could easily be a lot more to come.
That’s not to say that Köln didn’t have chance to equalise, because they did. Swedish striker Mikael Ishak was found by a cross in the box, but he didn’t manage to get a shot away. Köln also enjoyed the vast majority of corners, with McKenna (on as a substitute on the half hour mark) having perhaps the best opportunity late in the first half. Down the other end, Sylvestr was proving a thorn in Köln’s side, instigating an attack on the advantage (from which Pezzoni was booked before going off), and drawing a string of excellent saves from Horn in Köln’s goal. Aue were, on balance of play, excellent value for a half time lead, and Holger Stanislawski would have to give his side a truly inspirational team talk if they were to overcome Aue’s dominance.
It seemed for all of a few minutes that the ex-St Pauli manager had done it. Köln were camped on the edge of Aue’s penalty area for much of the opening minutes of the second half, but a breakaway goal in which Jakub Sylvestr was instrumental ended any fight Köln had left in them. The Slovakian accelerated away through the centre, and despite being forced wide by Dominik Maroh, managed to flick a cross in to Halil Savran. The 27 year old still had to rely on a slip up from Kevin McKenna, but his finish was excellent, and Timo Horn had no chance. 2-0 with 54 minutes played, and Köln were staring into the abyss.
Chances came and went, and both sides shared opportunities. Kevin McKenna, shortly after his mistake that cost Köln a goal, had a shot cleared off the line by Fabian Müller, while Savran’s replacement from the substitute bench, Wiegel, was played in by Jakub Sylvestr. His shot was deflected, and Kevin Schlitte could only head straight at Timo Horn from the resulting corner.
In the end, it was a magnificent display by Aue, displaying the strength to beat teams in tight matches. Jakub Sylvestr was magnificent up front, and it was due to his work rate that both goals were scored. A worthy result, and a well deserved free points for the Saxony club.