FC Ingolstadt 04 won at home for the first time in nearly six months with a thoroughly-convincing victory over SV Darmstadt 98.
Darmstadt have been the more impressive of the two relegated sides in the 2. Bundesliga so far this season but found themselves 1-0 down at the break through Stefan Kutschke’s penalty.
Die Schanzer had missed plenty of chances in the first half but were not so wasteful after the break, with Sonny Kittel and Thomas Pledl adding further goals.
Kutschke penalty gives Schanzer deserved lead
Struggling Ingolstadt, coming into the game third bottom, were looking for a first home win since beating Darmstadt in the Bundesliga at the beginning of April. Stefan Leitl brought Tobias Levels, Max Christiansen and Kutschke into the line-up following their 2-0 defeat to VfL Bochum on Sunday, whilst for the Lilies, Torsten Frings recalled Sandro Sirigui and Wilson Kamavuaka to the side that drew 3-3 with Dynamo Dresden.
The hosts started the better of the two sides, with Kutschke headed wide from a corner inside the first minute. A superb ball over the top from Christian Träsch then found Kittel, only for him to lose control of it in the box. Alfredo Morales had back-to-back chances too, with one blocked and one wide. All Darmstadt had to show or the early stages was an effort from Tobias Kempe that curled low away from goal, not troubling Örjan Nyland.
With close to half-an-hour played Ingolstadt had a flurry of further chances to take the lead. A cross from Pledl took a big deflection off Aytac Sulu’s footed, with Kutschke unable to head it in at the far post. From Marcel Gaus’s corner, Morales then headed it in towards the near post, but Daniel Heuer Fernandes flipped it over the bar.
Moments later, Heuer Fernandes was in action again to keep out a Kittel effort. Kittel tried to respond on the rebound, but a stray leg from Kamavuaka gave him the invitation to go down, with referee Timo Gerach pointing to the spot. Kutschke fired the penalty into the roof of the net, giving his side a deserved lead – even if the penalty was a little suspect. And if Morales hadn’t struck over with a later effort, they could have been even better off.
Kittel and Pledl hammer home advantage
Neither side had much to show for the second half efforts before the second goal came. Kutschke should have bagged a second for himself though, somehow conspiring to shoot wide from a great position.
He wouldn’t have been ruing it for too long though, playing his part as his side doubled their lead. From a Darmstadt through in their own half, Hamit Altintop, for all his experience, managed to lose the ball to the striker. Christiansen then passed to his left to find Kittel, who made Kamavuaka look a little foolish before placing the ball over Heuer Fernandes.
Darmstadt had not delivered the performance of a side 12 places above its opponents, and perhaps it was already a little too late when they did record a couple of good efforts, only for Kempe and Kamavuaka to see their shots saved by Nyland.
The hosts weren’t done though. Hauke Wahl almost scored a stunning goal – chesting down, controlling then firing just wide of the post. A free-kick from Pledl then streaked across the face of new, beating Heuer Ferandes and substitute Antonio Colak at the far post. Pledl made it three shortly after though. Sulu headed clear a Gaus ball into the box, but Pledl met it with a sumptuous volley.
If substitute Dario Lezcano hadn’t fired over late on, it could have been even better. But nevertheless this was a big, morale-boosting victory for Ingolstadt, a first home win this season and a first win since Leitl was confirmed as their permanent head coach. They shoot up to eleventh in the table, whilst Darmstadt could drop to as low as eighth by the end of the weekend.