Fortuna Düsseldorf’s incredible start to the season continued with a narrow victory against SV Darmstadt 98.
Emir Kujovic’s second-minute header was all they needed in the end to maintain the joint second-best start to a 2. Bundesliga campaign – bettered only by Hannover 96 in the 1986-87 season – however the Lilies have now gone a month without victory.
Kujovic gives Fortuna another quick start
Fortuna were looking to retain top spot against a side in Darmstadt whose own early season form has fizzled out, with a run of four matches without a win coming into this. Both sides made two changes from last weekend, with Friedhelm Funkel bringing in Takashi Usami and Kujovic for Niko Gießelmann and Rouwen Hennings. Wilson Kamavuaka and Orrin McKinze Gaines II replaced Markus Steinhöfer and Tobias Kempe from defeat for Darmstadt in a 4-3 epic against 1. FC Nürnberg on Monday.
Düsseldorf’s last home match, the 3-1 win against MSV Duisburg, had been a thriller as well, and just like on that evening, Düsseldorf needed just two minutes to score the game’s opening goal. The corner from Usami was headed on by Oliver Fink, and Kujovic headed into the back of the net. The Darmstadt players felt there was a foul but the referee Frank Willenborg wasn’t interested in their protests.
Aytac Sulu had a header kept out by Raphael Wolf just after, but otherwise the hosts remained in control as Darmstadt struggled to contain them. Their best chances after the goal came courtesy of Usami and Benito Raman. The Japanese winger Usami, on loan from FC Augsburg, hit the post after connecting with Jean Zimmer’s cross. He then found Raman, who headed inches over the bar.
Darmstadt’s best spell of the half came around the half-hour mark. Kamavuaka set up Yannick Stark for a shot, but he put it wide across the face of goal. Jan Rosenthal should have levelled the game up shortly after – only Wolf stood between him and the goal, but the goalkeeper was enough of an obstacle, as Rosenthal placed it over him and wide, perhaps also distracted by the attentions of Kaan Ayhan.
Mehlem and Neuhaus closest in dreary second half
After the half-time break, the game failed to regain its flow, with only limited opportunities for both sides. Marvin Mehlem, introduced in place of Gaines, had a good chance early on when found by Felix Platte, however a late challenge from Ayhan helped send it off target.
Darmstadt were probably edging the balance of the half, but they were struggling to make it count. At the other end, Florian Neuhaus had a good chance to make it two for the hosts, however his shot was palmed away by Joël Mall, who was not really being tested that much after a nervy debut against Nürnberg.
With nothing coming from open play in the final minutes, both sides had a set pieces to try to score. Ayhan struck over after Düsseldorf were awarded a free-kick in the box, Mall diving down to collect the ball after a risky back pass from Kevin Großkreutz. Steinhöfer’s free-kick at the other end, given for an Andre Hoffmann handball, came to little.
So Düsseldorf saw out a fifth win in a row, going six points clear of Holstein Kiel ahead of their game against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday. Darmstadt have now gone as many games without a win.