Despite being the better side for large parts of the game, goals from Emil Berggreen and Salim Khelifi were able to scupper Sandhausen's march towards another home win and give Eintracht Braunschweig a hugely important push towards the promotion places.
Sandhausen's form had been topsy-turvy of late, a real mixed bag. They had won two, lost two and drawn once in their last five outings, though their superb start meant they were still in contention for a promotion spot. Alois Schwartz made two changes from the side that drew with Greuther Fürth in their previous game, as Denis Linsmayer and Marco Thiede replaced Damian Roßbach and Jakub Kosecki.
Braunschweig's season was shaping up like normal. A rough patch, followed by one which they're virtually unstoppable and repeat. The same seems to be happening once again, with just one win in five leaving them hanging on to the chasing pack. Their shock defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf didn't help, but Thorsten Lieberknecht opted for a similar starting eleven. Phil Ofosu-Ayeh, Adam Matuschyk and Hendrick Zuck all dropped out, allowing Patrick Schönfeld, Gerrit Holtmann and Emil Berggreen to start.
Braunschweig's super start, Sandhausen storm back
It was the returning Holtmann that had the early opportunity in the match. The talented youngster, who recently signed a new deal, curled an effort just over the bar from the edge of the box. Braunschweig were on top in the opening exhanges and should have scored when Berggreen went one-on-one with Marco Knaller. He failed to spot the open and free Salim Khelifi beside him, who would have had an easy tap-in, instead the Dane's shot was well-saved.
Sandhausen finally came into the game and felt they should have had a penalty when the ball struck Joesph Baffo's arm in the penalty area. The defender did not make a movement towards the ball with his hand, however. The up-tempo start was followed with a lull in proceedings, which was no surprise given the lively beginning.
It did spring back to life when Rafal Gikiewicz made a stunning save from Aziz Bouhaddouz's header. The forward met Philipp Klingmann's pin-point cross, only to see the Polish stopper somehow get a hand to the ball. Klingmann himself almost opened the scoring in bizarre fashion, as his ball into the box clipped the top of the bar. Another good stop, at either end, from the 'keepers meant that the game was level and there for the taking at the break.
Gikiewicz saves the day before Khelifi seals the deal
Alexander Bieler replaced the quiet Robert Zillner at half-time, in a bid to get things going through the middle. Unfortunately for Schwartz, his side were behind just two minutes into the second period. Schönfeld's ball down the left channel set Ken Reichel free, and the attacking full-back put in a fantastic cross to the feat of Berggreen; he made no mistake, finishing a quick move off with his right foot.
The hosts did respond immediately and could have equalised, as Gikiewicz began to 'experiment'. The Braunschweig 'keeper proceeded to do some kick-ups on the bye-line before one poor touch nearly gave Bouhaddouz the chance to pounce. Thankfully for him, he was able to grab the ball just before he tapped it in. Gikiewicz's sweeper-keeper duties came to the fore soon after, though his clearing header was not capitalised upon.
But with the unthinkable moments of madness come the Pole's quite fantastic reactions. Leart Paqarada's ball in from the left was perfect for Bouhaddouz to throw his foot at, though Gikiewicz somehow managed to flick out a hand and drag the shot away from goal. None of the Sandhausen support could quite believe they hadn't scored.
To make matters worse for the hosts, Braunschweig scored the goal to seal the game not long after that stunning save. After Bouhaddouz had gone down clutching his head, Sandhausen seemed to stop in the hope Benjamin Cortus would award a free-kick but none was forthcoming. By this stage, Bouhaddouz was back on his feet and Khelifi rounded Knaller to slot home the Lions' second.
Quite how Sandhausen contrived to lose this game is quite impressive, especially given how well they played. It seems that Braunschweig's Bundesliga experience stood them in good stead and that they are set for another crack at making the top three. The home side will take little comfort from how well they played, but it is a stunning transformation from last year's fortunes.