FC St. Pauli won back-to-back games for the first time this season, and moved off the bottom of the 2. Bundesliga for the first time since the beginning of October, with a 2-0 win over Dynamo Dresden.
Kyoung-Rok Choi returned to the starting line-up and opened the scoring in the first half, with Cenk Sahin giving his side a more comfortable cushion in the second. Dresden never looked like getting back into the game.
The win takes St. Pauli above both Erzgebirge Aue and Arminia Bielefeld, albeit only on goal difference with the bottom three all locked on 17 points.
St. Pauli showing signs of life in relegation battle
Although they were still bottom of the league before the game, St. Pauli have started the Rückrunde positively. A good performance in defeat to VfB Stuttgart was followed up by an impressive 2-1 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig last weekend.
They made three changes from that game. Daniel Buballa and Aziz Bohuaddouz returned from suspension and the African Cup of Nations respectively, with Yi-Young Park and Lennart Thy making way. Choi came in for the injured Mats Möller Daehli.
Dresden came into the game unbeaten in four, a run that included a 2-1 win against 1. FC Nürnberg and a goalless draw with 1. FC Union Berlin since the winter break, leaving them in sixth place. They were unchanged from the game against Union.
When the two sides met in Saxony in August, Dresden came out 1-0 winners thanks to an early Andreas ‘Lumpi’ Lambertz goal. With no love lost between the two sets of fans, St. Pauli would have been determined to gain revenge for that defeat.
Choi makes hosts' dominance count
The hosts, full of confidence, where much the better side throughout. Bouhaddouz headed over a Sahin corner, but soon after had an even better opening. Set up again by Sahin, he found that Marvin Schwäbe was blocking the way to goal and the Dresden goalkeeper stayed strong to keep his shot out.
They came close again from a free-kick. Johannes Flum received the ball in the box, found himself crowded out, but off the foot of Guiliano Modica it fell to Bernd Nehrig, however he fired over.
And a minute later they were in the lead. Choi latched onto a stray back pass from Lambertz, evaded the three defenders trying to block his way and placed the ball past Schwäbe.
The visitors didn’t get much of a sight of goal until the second minute of first half stoppage time. Stefan Kutschke’s header fell into the path of Erich Berko, but he was forced wide and could only hit the side netting.
Sahin takes advantage of another mistake
St. Pauli remained very much on top early in the second half, with the half-time introductions of Christopher Butchmann and Thy not affecting their rhythm. Schwäbe had to make sure a Lasse Sobiech header was going over the bar, whilst a promising move involving Thy, Boudahhouz and Sahin came to nothing in the end.
Dresden started to show a few signs of life, but another mistake cost them dear. After getting the ball away from Thy, Modica was then lapse on it and gave it away to Waldemar Sobota. He found Bouhaddouz, who set up Sahin in the middle for a straightforward finish to put St. Pauli two up.
With St. Pauli continuing to defend well, Dresden struggled to give Philipp Heerwagen very little to worry about. Philip Heise forced him to punch away his cross, before putting the rebound himself over, but that was about it. St. Pauli created few further chances either, Thy coming closest when he hit the side netting.
Dresden coach Uwe Neuhaus had been critical of the St. Pauli pitch before the game and had concerns about how his side would perform on it. The answer was poorly, with mistakes costing them both goals, but there are now clear signs that St. Pauli have turned a corner in their season.