Augsburg climb Bundesliga table with win over sorry Stuttgart
Two late Hamburg goals produced a 2-0 victory over rival Werder Bremen in a Sunday afternoon showdown between teams living in the dangerous relegation zone of the Bundesliga. How important those ultimately might prove to be won't be known until end of the season, but the 101st derby between the foes helped to redefine the situation at the bottom for the moment.
When a 72nd minute Paul Verhaegh penalty was enough to give Augsburg a 1-0 win at last-place VfB Stuttgart in the night game, HSV was safely above the drop zone in 15th place, with Borussia Dortmund, Bremen and Stuttgart occupying the last three places. The bottom two are relegated automatically while the 16th-place finisher must play off against a Second Division hopeful for the right to remain in the top flight.
Artjoms Rudnevs' game-winner with six minutes left and an injury-time own goal from keeper Raphael Wolf, were enough to lift HSV spirits while ending a mini-revival by the rivals. Werder Bremen had won its last two matches to breathe some life into their season, but failed to last the distance Sunday just when it appeared the teams were headed for a 0-0 result.
There were chances both ways in the first 80 minutes and some good work from both Wolf and his HSV counterpart Jaroslav Drobny, but when the goal arrived it was the result of a long-throw in, an unlucky flick by a defender and Rudnevs' quickest reaction.
Ashton-Philip Goetz produced the throw from the right touchline that was just long enough to flick off the head of defender Assani Lukimya and into the path of Rudnevs. The Latvian was at full stretch to touch it over the line and break the deadlock in the 84th minute.
The second HSV goal was a strange one as Werder Bremen pushed up to try to save a point Pierre-Michel Lasogga had space and time on the right wing to cross into the box. There were three waiting without the attention of defenders and Tolgay Arslan took the shot but contrived to hit the left post with the whole goal to shoot at.
The ball came back off the post and rolled along the goal line where Wolf, trying to recover from his initial reaction, pushed the ball onto the other post and into the net.
By then Bremen were down to 10 men, captain Clemens Fritz -- already on a yellow -- having collected a second caution for a wild 89th minute tackle that resulted in his dismissal. In the end, HSV boss Joe Zinnbauer will have been the happier manager, with Viktor Skripnik left to ponder how to keep the Bremen turn-around on course.
At Stuttgart the home side ran into trouble in the 27th minute when Danny Schwaab picked up a second yellow card in the space of six minutes. His second foul, going through the back of Halil Altintop's knee brought out red from referee Thorsten Kinhofer and meant VfB played the final hour-plus with 10-men.
Augsburg labored to break them down, however, and it wasn't until Adam Hlousek handled a Raul Bobadilla cross from the right that the visitors had their opportunity to get on top. It looked like a bit of a picky decision by Kinhofer, already not popular with the home fans.
Verhaegh, perfect from the penalty spot this season, picked the left corner and gave his team all three points. With that reward they moved up to sixth in the table, where they are 12 points back of leaders Bayern Munich.