Lions Fail to Reap Big Reward
1860 Munich and St. Pauli Draw 1-1
Allianz Arena, Munich, March 6 – FC St. Pauli can feel lucky that they earned a point on Monday night against TSV 1860 München to take with them on the long trip back to Hamburg. Lions’ Kai Bülow gifted the Buccaneers a stone wall penalty in the 32nd minute when he crudely hacked down Petar Sliskovic inside the 16-yard box.
A low, well struck penalty by Florian Bruns was millimetres away from being saved by Gabor Kiraly who guessed the right way but couldn’t prevent it from slipping through and into the net.
After the home side had made all three substitutions, they managed to claw back a fully deserved equaliser from Kevin Volland with only two minutes left of normal time remaining. Patrick Funk, who had been outstanding for most of the game, lost concentration momentarily to allow substitute Collin Benjamin to creep in and set up Volland for his 10th goal of the season.
Despite dominating for most of the game and having the best of the scoring opportunities, the Lions just could not find the missing ingredient up front. First to go close was Antonio Rukavina when he unleashed a blistering shot from 25 yards to rattle the post. Benny Lauth went close with a curling effort from 16 yards and Stefan Aigner headed a decent looking cross into the ground to bounce kindly for Benedikt Pliquett in the St. Pauli goal.
Just after the half hour mark things took a turn for the worst. After having so many chances to score, 1860 had some defending to do when, as coach Reiner Maurer had predicted the day before, St. Pauli made a quick counter down the left. Bülow, a slow and cumbersome defensive midfield player was first to the scene as Sliskovic stepped inside the edge of the penalty area. Bülow’s clumsy and immature lunge tripped the St. Pauli forward and left the referee with a very clear and easy decision to make. Pointing to the penalty spot nobody could argue the call. Up stepped Burns to hit a low shot to the keeper’s right that was only a whisker away from being kept out by Kiraly.
Where Bülow was looking well out of his depth, Rukavina and Aigner continued to show their class and experience to cause problems down the right and Daniel Bierofka was bossing the midfield alone as he so often does. Sadly Volland and Lauth up front couldn’t find their touch and squandered some good chances.
Sebastian Schachten was replaced by Cartsen Rotherbach a minute before the break and even though Munich had the best chances, the half ended 1-0 to the visitors. Surely at the half time break Maurer would bring Maximilian Nicu on for Bülow?
At the restart 1860 picked up where they left off and continued to apply the pressure with the same 11 players. They did restricted Pauli to taking ambitious pot shots from distance but Kiraly was always equal to them.
Finally after 64 minutes Nicu was brought on for Djordje Rakic. The Serbian forward has looked uncomfortable all season being stranded out on the wide left and Nicu has been impressive in the few opportunities he has been given. Nine minutes later a questionable decision to substitute Bierofka saw the introduction of youngster Sebastian Maier. Most thought Nicu would drift into a central role but that didn’t happen. Instead, a light weight Maier was played in the middle and he had a tough time settling in.
Then Bülow was finally replaced. Collin Benjamin appeared on stage and made an immediate impact with 10 minutes of the game remaining. It was his vision and strength that set up the equaliser for Volland to side-foot home in the 88th minute to the delight of the home fans. The goal was nothing less than they deserved as they rescued a point even though they deserved more.
The way Maurer plays so many of his players out of position is very confusing and it’s clearly damaging to his promotion campaign. Bülow has been found out, not just because he gave the penalty away but because he’s ineffective in midfield. There is nobody slower than him in the team and he lacks any kind of touch when in possession. Dominik Stahl or Benjamin should be given a start ahead of him for the next game away to FSV Frankfurt.