Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-3 FC St. Pauli: Injuries overshadow dramatic comeback
Photo: Bundesliga

FC St. Pauli came from behind to beat nine-man Fortuna Düsseldorf and draw them into the 2. Bundesliga relegation battle.

However the match may be overshadowed by awful injuries to Kevin Akpoguma and Bernd Nehrig after an accidental clash early into proceedings.

After a goalless first 45 minutes, Adam Bodzek was send off for Düsseldorf after seeing a second yellow card but they took the lead soon after through Andre Hoffmann.

St. Pauli equalised through Philipp Ziereis and Christopher Buchtmann put them ahead after Hoffmann was then sent off. Aziz Bouhaddouz scored the third goal in stoppage time.

One change for each side

Düsseldorf were looking for a first home win since beating Arminia Bielefeld in October. In fact they had only won twice at all since their 1-0 victory over St. Pauli in November, but they had drawn their last two games, including against Dynamo Dresden last weekend.

St. Pauli meanwhile continued their strong second half of the season with a 1-0 victory against Würzburger Kickers on Sunday, their second in a row.

Both sides made one change to their starting line-ups. Özkan Yildirim replaced the ill Rouwen Hennings, whilst Nehrig returned from suspension at the expense of Johannes Flum. Ewald Lienen would have to reverse that change early on though after the unfortunate incident just a few minutes in.

First half overshadowed by horrendous injuries

It was a sickening clash of heads between Akpoguma and Nehrig following a St. Pauli free-kick. Akpoguma came off a lot worse, having to be stretchered off with a neck brace, whilst Nehrig was unable to walk off unaided after sustaining an injury in his lower back.

Both players were taken to hospital, with Akpoguma suffering a broken first cervical vertebrae, whilst Nehrig had haemorrhaging in a sacroiliac joint.

Understandably both sides took a while to get going once play resumed, but Düsseldorf would eventually have two good opportunities to open the scoring. Oliver Fink had a header taken by Philipp Heerwagen, but Christian Gartner came even closer, with his shot grazing the post from Ilhas Bebou’s cross.

St. Pauli couldn’t make their mark on the game. The best chance of the half for them was set up by Waldemar Sobota, however Bouhaddouz scuffed the cross wide. Having already lost Nehrig, they would also have to take off Jeremy Dudziak before the break because of a dislocated shoulder.

For Düsseldorf, Gartner went wide again, before Yildirim looked to have the entire St. Pauli half of the pitch to himself on the counter. He couldn’t control the ball though and Buchtmann won it back. Fink shot wide in the six minutes of added time, but it remained goalless at the break.

Bodzek off but Düsseldorf take the lead

Neither side could muster up much after half time. Düsseldorf looked the more likely, with a Bebou shot blocked by Daniel Buballa and later attempts from both the winger and Gartner taken by Heerwagen.

They were then though reduced to ten men when Bodzek was shown a yellow card for a foul on Cenk Sahin. He had already been booked in the first half, and a red quickly followed. If anything though, that seemed to galvanise them.

They almost caught St. Pauli on the counter from the free-kick that followed the sending off, with Bebou setting up Yildirim for what looked like an easy finish – however Heerwagen got back to block with Flum clearing on the line.

Five minutes later though and they did take the lead. A shot from Emmanuel Iyoha clearly hit the arm of Sahin in the box, but whilst everyone was watching the referee wave away the protests, Hoffmann kept his eye on the ball and fired it in.

Ziereis starts emphatic St. Pauli comeback

It didn’t take long for St. Pauli to respond. Michael Rensing made a save of Bouhaddouz, but he was culpable for the equaliser. He kept out a header from Sobota as Bouhaddouz came sliding in, but the rebound fell to Ziereis to thump it in.

The momentum had swung, and it got even better for the visitors when Sahin was wiped out by Hoffmann on the edge of the box. Hoffmann saw Düsseldorf’s second red card as a result. Buchtmann took the free-kick, placing it perfectly over the wall, well beyond the reach of Rensing. The turnaround was complete.

St. Pauli looked set to see the victory out, but just to make sure, Bouhaddouz scored a third deep into stoppage time. An excellent ball from Buballa allowed him to get behind the Düsseldorf defence. He chipped over Rensing, and that was that.

St. Pauli shoot up to eleventh with that win, with the third goal enough to take them above Düsseldorf as well. They are both also level on points with SV Sandhausen and 1.FC Kaiserslautern, but still just three points clear of the relegation play-off spot. Anyone of nine teams, at least, could realistically still go down.