After a goalless first half against SpVgg Greuther Fürth, George came off the bench to put them ahead almost immediately, before adding a second late on.
Sercan Sararer’s consolation made for a nervy finish, but Regensburg, only promoted from the 3. Liga last year, hung on to put pressure on third-placed Holstein Kiel, whilst Fürth remain in big relegation trouble despite only a fourth defeat in 17 matches.
Reese closest in quiet first half
The two Bavarian rivals met with very different things at stake. The hosts, despite losing just three times since the reverse fixture in November, came into the game just three points and two places clear of the bottom three, whilst Regensburg, despite only being four points better in this craziest of seasons, had eyes on Kiel. Both teams drew last weekend, with Jurgen Gjasula coming in for Richárd Magyar for Fürth, whilst Andreas Geipl and Marco Grüttner replaced Benedikt Gimber and Jonas Nietfeld for the visitors.
The first half wasn’t setting the stage for the thriller, despite the stakes. Fürth had the first chance of the game, with Sebastian Ernst picking a gap on the edge of the box before shooting wide. Regensburg couldn’t test the goal at the other end either, with Alexander Nandzik’s shot deflected wide after Fürth failed to clear a corner, before Geipl struck the ball into the stands a few minutes later.
Fabian Reese would have the clearest chance to break the deadlock before the break. A back-heel from Julian Green left him one-on-one with Regensburg goalkeeper Philipp Pentke, however he got down to make the save, with Marvin Knoll then clearing the loose ball before Reese could pounce on it again.
Geipl came a lot closer to scoring later than he had earlier on when he struck the ball on target from outside the box. Sascha Burchert palmed the ball away from danger. It was Fürth who went into half-time as the stronger team though, Khaled Narey directing a shot wide across goal, whilst Green saw an effort dealt go wide off a Regensburg defender.
George the hero from the bench
Narey made a promising run forward for the hosts in the opening seconds of the half, but after that came to little Regensburg were able, a few minutes later, to break the deadlock. Joshua Mees charged down the left, despite debatably taking the ball out of play at one stage, and his cross found George, who had only come on at half-time. He slotted the ball past Burchert to give his side the lead.
They came close to immediately doubling that advantage, with only a save from Burchert keeping out a free-kick from Knoll. After that the game settled back into the same pattern as before the break. Narey at a half chance as he came forward but Pentke came out of his box to rob him of the ball, whilst George also came close to getting a second goal.
The game was coming into its closing stages but that point, but his brace wasn’t long in coming. Another substitute, Nietfeld, who had only just come on the pitch, found him in a ridiculous amount of space in the box with the two defenders in the box failing to pick him up. He fired in, and it looked like game over.
It wasn’t though. After Burchert made a good save to just about keep his side in it from Nietfeld, his side countered from the resulting corner. Narey put the ball in the box, and Sercan Sararer took aim, and after a number of deflections it may or may not have crossed the line. An attempted, last-ditch clearance from Nandzik went straight into Serdar Dursun, and if it hadn’t gone before it certainly did then. Sararer was in fact credited with the goal though.
Nevertheless, despite a late push from the Shamrocks, Regensburg held on for an important victory. In all likelihood they will now be safe, whilst they along with VfL Bochum, who also won, they are starting to pile the pressure on Holstein Kiel, ahead of their game against Dynamo Dresden on Saturday. Fürth will be looking nervously over their shoulders for the rest of the weekend.
Friday’s other 2. Bundesliga result
VfL Bochum 3-2 1. FC Kaiserslautern (0-1, Altintop 7’; 1-1, Hinterseer 18‘; 2-1, Osawe 27‘ (OG); 2-2, Vucur 48‘; 3-2, Stöger 81‘.)