Two first half goals from Lukas Spalvis earned 1. FC Kaiserslautern a first win since November against Eintracht Braunschweig to potentially breathe life into their battle against 2. Bundesliga relegation.
Both of Spalvis’s goals game against the relative run of play, with the hosts failing to take advantage of their greater number of chances.
Suleiman Abdullahi pulled one back in the second half, but Kaiserslautern survived a late siege to give Michael Frontzeck a win in his first game in charge.
Spalvis puts bottom club in control
Kaiserslautern, still rock bottom of the league, controversially appointed Frontzeck as their new coach in the week, ruthlessly casting aside Jeff Strasser after his recent health scare. For his first game Frontzeck made three changes from the 3-1 loss to Fortuna Düsseldorf, with Jan-Ole Sievers, Stipe Vucur and Osayamen Osawe coming in. After a potentially job-saving win for Torsten Lieberknecht against Erzgebirge Aue, he stuck with the same eleven.
The hosts started the match with two big chances to take the lead. Jan Hochscheidt was on target with what would have been an impressive goal from distance, only for Sievers, in goal after Marius Müller was sent off last week, to parry it wide. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker tried to head the resulting corner clear, only for the ball to fall straight to Domi Kumbela, but he struck wide.
A minute later, Kaiserslautern took the lead. Phillipp Mwene caught Abdullahi on the ball, taking possession of him. He back-heeled to Brandon Borrello behind in, his cross then found Spalvis, who headed into the ground the ball going past Jasmin Fejzic.
The frustrating thing for the hosts is that either side of the goal, they appeared to be the better side. They remained on top despite that early setback, with Abdullahi twice almost redeeming himself for the goal. A low cross was taken by Sievers, with Kumbela ready to put the ball home behind him, before he then set up Hochscheidt, however he scuffed the shot wide.
Braunschweig’s failure to restore parity would come back to cost them. Osawe failed to head the ball on goal from a Borello free-kick, their first real chance for half-an-hour since the goal, but from another Borello set piece, a corner, they doubled their lead. Callsen-Bracker headed it on, Osawe was caught unaware as it hit his chest, but Spalvis was very aware as he bundled the ball in.
Abdullahi strike not enough
Lieberknecht brought on Onur Bulut and Özkan Yildirim but there was no immediate impact at the start of the second half. They almost had to make a third change when Fejzic landed awkward after going for the ball with Osawe. There was immediate concern of a head or shoulder injury, with the physios indicating straight away that he would have to go off, but the goalkeeper had other ideas and managed to convince them he could stay on.
Not much else happened until a hectic few minutes around the hour mark. A cross from Ken Reichel was just too far ahead of Kumbela for him to connect, before the striker then himself set up Abdullahi for a chance which was saved by Sievers. Kaiserslautern then went down the other end only for Osawe to be denied by Fejzic. The home side were back in control of the flow game, with a shot from Yildirim then kept out by Sievers.
With just under 20 minutes left the goal to kick-start Braunschweig’s hopes of getting something from this game arrived. Steve Breitkreuz won the ball from a Kaiserslautern player, allowing Bulut to put the ball into the centre. Abdullahi found his position and took aim, with Sievers getting a touch but not enough to keep it out.
They would have chances to get something from the match. Abdullahi had a shot blocked unintentionally by the hand of Callsen-Bracker, before Reichel, without a goal this season, attempted one of his trademark efforts from outside the box, hitting the bar. Kaiserslautern were also lucky to survive a scramble halfway through five added minutes, as Christoffer Nyman had a shot blocked, before then finding Breitkreutz only for Christoph Moritz to head off the line.
The Red Devils though hung on to mark Frontzeck’s first game with a win and to give them hope of beating the drop. They are still though five points behind the team immediately above, SpVgg Greuther Fürth, and eight points from safety.
Sunday’s other 2. Bundesliga results
SV Darmstadt 98 1-2 MSV Duisburg (0-1, Engin 17‘; 1-1 Ji 37‘; 1-2, Iljutcenko 85’)
Dynamo Dresden 2-0 VfL Bochum (1-0, Roser 2’ (P); 2-0, Koné 89’)