Sylvestr scores against his former team as Nürnberg get opening game win
Image credit: FCN.de

Nürnberg struggled to create chances in the opening half-hour, but afterwards they began to break down the stubborn Erzgebirge Aue defence. Tomas Pekhart had a goal ruled out for offside, while Robert Koch and Jakub Sylvestr missed great chances to open the scoring. Despite Aue holding strong for the majority of the game, former Aue player then came back to haunt his former team; as Sylvestr made up for his earlier misses by slotting home in the sixty-ninth minute.

Nürnberg had went under wholesale change during the summer, as new coach Valérien Ismaël took the reigns of 'der Club'. It was a case of 13 in and 13 out; as the Bavarian club lost most of the first-team squad that was relegated last year. However, Ismaël bought well during the summer, with Niclas FüllkrugPeniel Mlapa and Jan Polak all arriving from Bundesliga clubs. Sending a message that they were desperate to be back in the big time. Not only did the French coach buy from the Bundesliga, he took Jakub Sylvestr (from their opponents) and also the talented Danny Blum, from the 2.Bundelsiga, to add some depth to the Nürnberg attack.

Erzgebirge Aue had also underwent some change during the summer, but not nearly as much as their hosts. Estonian brothers Henri and Hannes Ainer arrived, as three new faces made the starting eleven; as Stipe Vučur and Thorsten Schulz slotted straight into the back four, with Romario Kortzorg making his debut out wide. The loss of Sylvestr was a massive one, placing a lot of pressure on the team's misfiring striking options, as he finished the club and league's top goal-scorer last term with 15 goals.

The opening ten minutes were cagey; neither side wanting to give the opposition an early sniff at goal. A few half chances fell the way of both, however. Tomas Pekhart had his shot well blocked and new signing Alessandro Schöpf saw his drive saved by Martin Männel. Aue had a few opportunities in the way of set-pieces, but they were more hopeful than they were dangerous. Christian Ramirez' then had a costless-kick saved by the Aue 'keeper, but it was easy pickings for Männel. Javier Pinola, who'd thankfully shaven his hair over the summer break, rifled a shot over the Veilchen began to sit back and invite Nürnberg onto them.

Then, after a couple of failed Tomas Pekhart penalty appeals, the home side began to turn the screw. First, the enterprising Tobias Pachonik drove down the right-hand side and squared for the incoming Robert Koch; unfortunately for the new signing, his couldn't connect with the ball and spurned a glorious chance. Ramirez' delivery was a valuable asset for the physically strong Nürnberg team, but even his crossing was evading the attentions of the FCN striking duo. The hosts even had the ball in the net, as Koch was played through down the right; he passed to Pekhart who tapped in, but the veteran striker was correctly ruled offside. His partner in crime then wasted another great opportunity, as he controlled a Schöpf's costless-kick within the six-yard box, the Czech striker didn't realise how much time he had and hacked the ball harmlessly over.

Ismaël must have told his side, at half-time, to continue how they were playing at the end of the half; as Füllkrug stung the palms of Männel within seconds of the re-start. Almost immediately, however, Christian Ramirez was called into action; the Ecuadorian's intercepting tackle preventing Frank Löning from a costless shot at goal. The troublesome Füllkrug and Pekhart tried their luck again, but Männel was equal to the shots from distance. Sylvestr had another good chance to open his account, but his volley was high and wide of the goal; the home side continued to press, but couldn't find a way past a spirited Aue defensive display. When they did get past their defence, Pekhart was there to score; but, yet again, he was rightly called offside.

Finally, they broke Aue's defensive line. Jakub Sylvestr raced clear of the defence, faced with just Martin Männel, he passed the ball round the goalkeeper to give the hosts a deserved lead. The introduction of Peniel Mlapa just moments before seemed to prove the difference, as his physical presence made time and space for his striking partner. Füllkrug almost had the goal he deserved, too; the former Bremen man's half-volley was brilliantly held by an inspired Männel. An almost identical opportunity presented it's to Füllkrug, but it was much more routine for the Aue goalkeeper this time around. Mlapa had made the difference when he came on, he attracted the attentions of two Aue defenders almost every time; when he spun past two of them, he almost had a goal for himself, but the resulting shot flew well over.

Just as it looked like Nürnberg were strolling to the win; Michael Fink sent a marvelous chance past the post, when it looked easier to score than miss. The home side did see out the game in the end, getting a vital win as they aim to gain moment for the season ahead. The win also means they'll be top of the table, not that it's much of an acolade after matchday 1. Aue will be disappointed the didn't manage to get a point; especially after such stout defending and Fink's late chance. However, they can take heart from the fact they pushed one of the league's top team's until the very end away from home. 

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