1-0, Behrens 51’. 1-1, Zoua 78'. 2-1, Burgstaller 90'.
1. FC Nürnberg 2-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern: Guido Burgstaller has final say in tight contest

1. FC Nürnberg 2-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern: Guido Burgstaller has final say in tight contest

The 2. Bundesliga's top scorer bagged a 90th-minute winner, but could it be his last contribution for Der Club?

James Rees

In the final 2. Bundesliga game of 2016, Guido Burgstaller scored a 90th-minute winner as 1. FC Nürnberg overcame 1. FC Kaiserslautern.

After a goalless first half, Hanno Behrens headed Nürnberg into the lead soon after the break, however Jacques Zoua responded in kind as Kaiserslautern pushed for an equaliser.

However with the draw looking most likely, Burgstaller popped up with the winner, and Nürnberg fans will hope it isn’t his final contribution for the club, with rumours rife of his potential departure.

Both sides below where they want to be

Both sides got off to awful starts of the season, recovered with varied degrees of success at the halfway point looms. Kaiserslautern however had drawn each of their last four games, the last three of which had been goalless draws, leaving them in 13th place in the table.

They made three changes from their last match against Erzgebirge Aue, with Ewerton, Lukas Görtler and Alexander Ring recalled in place of Tim Heubach, Patrick Ziegler and Daniel Halfar.

As for the hosts, who started the night in tenth, they had seen their form falter after five wins in six, but had ended a three-game winless streak with a 2-0 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf ten days earlier, and they named an unchanged side.

Nürnberg have better of defensive first half

Nürnberg were on the brink of setting a 2. Bundesliga record for scoring in the most consecutive games, 38 to be precise. Yet the first half was very much one for the defenders. The home side looked the brighter, but Kaiserslautern were defending like a time with the confidence of three back-to-back clean sheets.

They were helped though by a dubious offside decision. A free-kick from the left caused all sorts of chaos in the box, with Dave Bulthuis eventually putting the ball in the net, albeit after the referee had already blown for offside. Burgstaller appears to be the man who strayed forward too soon, yet he had a minimal role in the play.

After Kevin Möhwald had put wide for the hosts, both sides did at least then register a shot on target. However neither Zoltan Stieber nor Ondrej Petrak really tested the opposition keepers with relatively tame attempts.

Burgstaller wins it after both sides trade headed goals

Nürnberg started the second half on the front foot, and although they allowed Ring a shot on target at the other end, they needed just five minutes to get in front. Tobias Kempe’s corner was perfectly placed to find the head of Behrens, who won the duel with Christoph Moritz to put it in at the near post to give his side the lead, and the record.

After that they looked very comfortable with the lead, with Kaiserslautern offering little in response initially. They did have appeals for a handball in the box though when Osayamen Osawe’s shot deflected off the arm of Bulthuis. No penalty was given.

The introduction of Maximilian Dittgen with just over 15 minutes to go saw them ramp up the pressure, with the substitute having a shot saved by Torsten Kirschbaum minutes after coming on. And just a couple more after that, they were level, with Stieber’s corner headed in by Zoua, despite Kirschbaum getting a hand to it.

After that the game looked set to end as a draw, the league’s top scorer Burgstaller had the final say. Found by Behrens on the edge of the box, he tried his luck with a fierce blow goalwards, with Julian Pollersbeck getting only fingertips to his fourteenth goal of the season.

So a Christmas gift from the Nürnberg talisman as they end the first half of the season with back-to-back victories. Or could it be a parting gift, with strong rumours that a move to FC Augsburg is on the cards. If Der Club are to launch a promotion charge in the New Year, they will need him to say.