It was a fantastic evening for SV Sandhausen, as they came out comfortable winners over local rivals, Karlsruher SC.
Sandhausen's remarkable run of form continued with a win over FSV Frankfurt before the international break, and they knew a win would propel them onto the coat-tails of league leaders, SC Freiburg. Alois Schwartz opted for Robert Zillner and Jakub Kosecki over Moritz Kuhn and Marco Thiede in his only two changes. There were no alterations in the Karlsruhe line-up after their magnificent performance against VfL Bochum, as Markus Kauczinski kept faith in the same side.
Controversial first half overshadows Linsmayer strike
The hosts were on top in the early exchanges but were failing to really test Dirk Orlishausen. The closest they came was from Aziz Bouhaddouz almost connecting with a pin-point Zillner cross, only for a Karlsruhe defender to cleverly flick the ball out of his path. However, it the breakthrough came from the resulting set-piece.
A corner, swung in by Zillner, was met by Orlishausen and the ball looped up in the air towards the edge of the box. Denis Linsmayer managed to control under pressure from several players and the elements, before turning and - somehow - chipping the Karlsruhe 'keeper. The shot had power and placement, as it cannoned in off the underside of the bar and post; even Linsmayer was shocked to open the scoring.
Karlsruhe did respond but Martin Stoll's header skimmed past the upright, while a good effort from Bouhaddouz was kept out acrobatically by Orlishausen. The striker didn't have to wait long to get his goal, though, as Sandhausen were awarded a controversial spot-kick. Dominic Peitz went shoulder-to-shoulder with Kosecki, and the Pole dropped to the ground. Bastian Dankert pointed to the spot despite furious protests from the visitors, allowing Bouhaddouz to slot home from 12 yards.
Karlsruhe finished the half with two very good penalty appeals being turned down. First, Dimitris Diamantakos felt a handball should have been awarded against Tim Kister but Dankert remained unmoved. The striker almost saw red from the Rostock-based referee, who booked him for dissent. Manuel Torres also asked for a penalty late on and was unfortunate not to be rewarded with one, as he was bundled into by two home defenders. Nevertheless, Sandhausen went into the break with a deserved lead.
Sandhausen comfortable despite Karlsruhe consolation
The visitors came out of the dressing room after the break and looked much more confident. Erwin Hoffer and Grischa Prömel both came on early in the half, and the former almost brought them back into the game. A cheekily lofted attempt almost caught out Marco Knaller in the home goal, though the ball went narrowly over the bar.
Despite more than holding their own, a swift counter caught Karlsruhe cold and Sandhausen notched up their third. After moving forward with pace, Robert Zillner eventually found himself in space to have a go at goal himself. The midfielder didn't disappoint and he rifled the ball past Orlishausen and into the far corner.
That looked to have killed the game, but Kauczinski's men had other ideas. As quickly as Sandhausen were celebrating their third, they found themselves pegged back. A great ball split the home defence and Torres was able to run through on goal and finish powerfully past Knaller at his near post. Unfortunately that was as good as it got for the visitors, and they fell to a disappointing defeat with Dimitrij Nazarov picking up a late red card to compound their misery.