- First Team
Red Devils Lose against the 'Club'
The Red Devils failed to snap their 21-game winless run as they suffered the sixth defeat in a row, losing 2-0 against 1. FC Nürnberg on Matchday 31. The defeat leaves the Red Devils ten points adrift of 1. FC Köln who currently occupies the relegation play-off place and has a game in hand over FCK.
FCK head coach Krassimir Balakov made one change to the side that lost 3-1 to Bayer 04 Leverkusen last time out, naming Tiffert for Dick, who picked up his tenth yellow card on Wednesday. Kirch was moved to right-back while Tiffert took the holding position. Abel lined up alongside Yahia in central defense, with Bugera at left-back, and Sippel in goal. Derstroff and Sahan patrolled the flanks, with De Wit and Fortounis in central midfield, and Sukuta-Pasu as the nominal target man.
After a rather tentative opening from both sides, the first chance fell to the visitors on four minutes, but Didavi dragged his shot across the goal mouth from a tight angle. A few minutes later, Sahan was constrained by referee Fritz and lost possession just for Balitsch to latch on to the loose ball and feed Chandler at the edge of the penalty area. The defender hared into the box and Sippel was lucky to see Chandler’s shot come back off the bar. The ‘Club’ was the livelier team and created some decent openings in the opening spell, but Frantz and Pekhart dragged their shots wide.
The Red Devils carved out their first chance on 18 minutes, with Sukuta-Pasu capitalizing on some sloppy work from Pinola, but the striker failed to get his shot on target. FCK slowly got a foothold in the game and Abel could have put his side in the lead, but his header missed the target with Schäfer already beaten. With the half-hour mark approaching, the Red Devils became more adventurous. Sukuta-Pasu fired a long-range effort over the bar from the edge of the box, before Kirch and Fortounis failed to find the back of the net after a Bugera corner kick. At the other end, a misplaced chip from Frantz missed the target.
The match gained pace and the Red Devils came within inches of opening the scoring, but Fortounis’ header flew over the bar and De Wit drilled a shot narrowly wide of the left post. It was completely against the run of play, but the visitors took the lead three minutes before half-time when Didavi fired a long shot into the right corner of the net, leaving Sippel with not chance.
Balakov brought on Petsos for Tiffert after the break as Kirch was moved to midfield, with Petsos taking over at right-back. In an attempt to clear the ball out of the danger zone, Petsos prompted his own ‘keeper to perform a smart save shortly after the restart. The visitors defended well and the Red Devils struggled to break the deadlock.
The quality of the match decreased as misplaced passes and misunderstandings were common and both sides struggled to get forward. A deflected Fortounis free-kick landed in the arms of Schäfer, and sub Wagner squandered another chance, directing his shot straight at Nürnberg’s shot-stopper when clean through. The ‘Club’ doubled its lead and put the game out of reach when Didavi hared down the left wing, leaving behind three FCK players before sending a pin-point cross into the six-yard box just for Pekhart to finish from close range (73’). Sukuta-Pasu directed a shot wide of the post and Sahan fired an attempt over the bar in closing spell, but that was not enough to avoid defeat.