Veteran Salomon Kalou came off the bench to salvage a point for a poor Hertha BSC in their Bundesliga match against FC Augsburg.
The hosts had done more than enough to go ahead before Caiuby finally opened the scoring with just over quarter of an hour remaining.
That would have taken them into the top four, until Kalou pounced in stoppage time to deny them the chance to reach those heady heights.
Augsburg fail to make most of attacking threat
With snow blighting all football across Germany on Sunday, Augsburg did an incredible job in clearing the pitch almost entirely of the white stuff before kick-off, although the game was still played with red lines and an orange ball. In terms of personnel, the hosts brought in Raphael Framberger and Marcel Heller from their 3-1 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05 last weekend. Niklas Stark for Arne Maier was the only change for Hertha from the defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, after Pál Dárdai had made ten changes for their UEFA Europa League match against Östersunds FK in midweek.
The hosts started in the game in eighth, four places above Hertha, and they had the better start. The visitors were behind the pace of the game, and a mistake from Sebastian Langkamp allowed the first chance of the game for Caiuby. He had ages to think about his shot yet could only aim it at Rune Jarstein when it came.
Ja-Cheol Koo also struck over for Augsburg, although the strikers for both sides were not so involved in the game. In fact the closest Hertha came was from a Mitchell Weiser free-kick, with Langkamp getting ahead of the Augsburg defensive line but shooting wide.
Augsburg ramped up the intensity halfway through the half. The wingers were their biggest threat, with a Heller cross headed wide by Caiuby. Heller himself then came mightily close with a first-time hit from a Framberger cross, with Jarstein getting the slightest of touches to push it onto the bar.
Hertha tried to assert themselves on the game but they kept getting caught on the counter from set pieces. One such moment saw Jeffrey Gouweleeuw strike over when he might have been better off leaving the ball for the in-form Michael Gregoritsch. A rare poor free-kick from Marvin Plattenhardt was then punished by Marwin Hitz, who throw the ball into his vacated left-back berth. The ball eventually came to Gregoritsch, but he went wide.
Caiuby finally finds the net before Kalou saves a point for Hertha
The second half continued along the same theme, however Augsburg were clearly growing frustrated at their ongoing failure to find the back of the net. Caiuby had another chance on goal but was well off target, and otherwise the opportunities were starting to dry up.
In response to the limp effort from his side, Dárdai took off the ineffective Vedad Ibisevic and Mathew Leckie, with Valentino Lazaro and Alexander Esswein coming on. The latter did at least challenge Hitz soon after coming on, his shot saved by the Swiss goalkeeper, but they weren’t able to build on that as it seemed increasingly likely this could be a third goalless draw between these two sides in four meetings.
Caiuby had already missed three good chances but he came closer with a fourth. From a Philipp Max corner, his header was put wide by Jarstein. The Hertha keeper made a mess of the second Max corner, flapping at it as it went over his head. The ball ended up at the feet of, again, Caiuby, and this time he was able to strike high into the net to finally put his side in front.
The 1-0 score line would have been enough to put Augsburg into the UEFA Champions League places, and it was the least they deserved after their display. They had a chance to make sure of the three points too. The impressive Framberger crossed into Gregoritsch, but he could only hit the side netting. Jonathan Schmid also missed the target.
Those would be left to rue those misses. Kalou had been brought on after Hertha went behind and the 32-year-old would salvage a point for then. Esswein’s cross was headed down by Stark for the Ivorian, who did the rest to break Augsburg hearts. It was a draw Dárdai’s men barely deserved, but they will hardly complain.
Sunday’s other Bundesliga Results
1. FC Köln 3-4 SC Freiburg (1-0, Klünter 8’; 2-0, Guirassy 16‘; 3-0, Stanko 29‘ (OG); 3-1, Petersen 39‘; 3-2, Haberer 65‘; 3-3, Petersen 90‘ (P); 3-4, Petersen 90+6‘ (P))
Hannover 96 2-0 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (1-0, Füllkrug 59‘; 2-0, Harnik 85‘)