Erzgebirge Aue blew the 2. Bundesliga relegation battle wide open with a 2-0 victory over SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
They deservingly led 2-0 at the break thanks to Pascal Köpke and Malcolm Cacutalua, although Khaled Narey gave them a fright late on with what was only a consolation in the end.
The result leaves the league’s third-bottom side level on points with Fürth, and within only five points of ten other teams, as high as fifth-placed Arminia Bielefeld.
Violas dominate to lead by two at the break
The hosts came into this relegation six-pointer in the play-off berth, with Fürth a place and three points better off yet only another three points behind 1. FC Union Berlin in eighth. Aue made two changes from their draw in Berlin, with Clemens Fandrich and Philipp Riese in for Dominik Wydra, who was suspended, and Mario Kvesic. The Shamrocks were unchanged from their 2-1 win over bottom side 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
Aue began on the front foot, despite an early shot from Fürth’s Maximilian Wittek, and they should have been ahead when Calogero Rizzuto set up Dimitrij Nazarov, but his shot was kept out by the arm of Sascha Burchert. They kept up the pressure on the Fürth goal after that too, with Köpke amongst others striking wide. Julian Green did likewise at the opposite end of the pitch, going inches wide of the post, but his side struggled to pose much more of a threat.
With over half-an-hour gone, Aue would eventually cash in on the dominance but they were given a helping hand by poor defending. Sebastian Ernst’s attempted clearance from out wide went sideways, to Nazarov, who from outside the box struck the post. The ball fell to Mario Maloca, who passed it straight to Köpke, who accepted the invitation to score.
It got even better for them before the break. A corner was headed by Dennis Kempe to Ridge Munsy, who effort was saved by Burchert. The ball came back to him but he couldn’t get his feet behind it, and it eventually fell to Cacutalua to fire through the breach and double the Violas’ lead.
Narey consolation not enough for Shamrocks
Fürth looked a little brighter after the restart, with Narey getting forward and Green having a couple of sights of goal, one of which gave Martin Männel a relatively straightforward save. Aue should have moved out of sight though when Köpke crossed to Munsy at the far post. Inches in front of goal, he sent the ball sailing over the bar instead of into the net.
Opportunities were harder to come by for both sides after that, with Aue noticeably doing well too repel Fürth, who brought on Daniel Steininger and Serdar Dursun but the former restored to shooting from distance, with the ball ending firmly in the stands. Aue’s attacks had less bite too, although Köpke did have one effort, kept out by Burchert.
Fürth kept having punts on goal without much luck, although at least Fabian Reese got one on target, keeping Männel’s hands warm. His counterpart Burchert had played his part in keep the score down though and did so again when Rizzuto crossed to Köpke on the far side, with the striker only able to find the keeper once more.
What could have been a tense finish was then set up though by Fürth. A superb ball from Lukas Gugganig fell at the feet of Ernst, who crossed the ball into the box. Dursun went for it but missed, but Narey made no mistake, connecting at the far post.
It didn’t prove that way though, with the Franconian side not having a stoppage time siege in them. A big win for Aue to keep in touch with rest, although they remain behind Fürth on goal difference, with SV Darmstadt 98 and Kaiserslautern being cut adrift. Above them though, only the top three can truly keep thoughts of relegation out of their mind.