Karlsruher SC won for just a second time since November with a 2-0 win against a lethargic SV Darmstadt 98.
Second half goals from Philipp Hofmann and Marvin Wanitzek gave Christian Eichner’s side a deserved victory after an eventful week at the club.
Darmstadt, on the other hand, couldn’t get going in an empty Wildparkstadion and didn’t do enough to get anything out of this game.
Karlsruhe are deep in the relegation battle after just one win in ten before the season was suspended, and in the wake of the coronavirus stoppage they have been teetering on the brink of insolvency. However the resignation of long-serving president Ingo Wellenreuther earlier in the week paved the way for new investors to help reduce the club debts.
Darmstadt are in safer waters, and may have been thinking about a late-season promotion challenge. Of course though, Dimitrios Grammozis as already announced he will leave the club at the end of the campaign, whenever that may be, with former Holstein Kiel and 1. FC Köln coach Markus Anfang already confirmed as his replacement.
The hosts were without several players, with Christoph Kobald and Änis Ben-Hatira suspended. Four other players, including the long-term absentee Choi Kyoung-rok, were out with injury. The Lilies meanwhile had Matthias Bader ruled out at short notice with muscular problems, with Braydon Manu also injured. Fabian Schnellhardt missed out for personal reasons.
The first 20 minutes saw both sides trying to ease their way back in, but a couple of efforts from Wanitzek plus one from Hofmann helped to break the ice for the hosts, but not the resolve of Darmsatadt goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen.
Darmstadt on the other hand, despite some meaty early challenges from Tobias Kempe and Paik Seung-ho, just couldn’t get going. That wasn’t until the South Korean midfielder picked out Yannick Stark in the middle, but he could only blast well over the bar.
Marvin Mehlem came close to breaking the deadlock shortly after the break but the flow of the game remained unchanged. Karlsruhe remained dangerous, this time from corner, with Daniel Gordon heading into the bar from one, before Hofmann connected with another to give them a deserved lead.
Darmstadt made full use of the five substitutions now allowed, but couldn’t craft any real chances for an equaliser until deep into stoppage time, when Mathias Honsak headed a corner over. Karlsruhe then made the game safe. Schuhen parried Marco Djuricin’s shot but Wanitzek pounced for a deserved goal.
Karlsruhe: Uphoff; Theide, Gordon, Pisot, Roßbach; Fröde, Gondorf (Groiß 84’); Stiefler (Röser 84’), Wanitzek, Grozurek (Lorenz 61’); Hofmann (Djuricin 84’).
Darmstadt: Schuhen; Herrmann (Heller 86‘), Dumic, Rapp, Holland; Pálsson, Stark (Peiffer 86‘); Mehlem (Skarke 60‘), Paik (Honsak 61‘), Kempe; Dursun (Platte 75‘).
Goals: Hofmann 67‘, Wanitzek 90+6‘.
The three points move Karlsruhe up one place to 16th, the relegation play-off place, overtaking Wehen Wiesbaden who play on Sunday.
Eichner felt “the football gods were in Karlsruhe” to help his side, and was happy that they were able to break the deadlock with a set piece routine they had practised in the week.
“I was surprised that I had so much space and just placed the ball in,” said Hofmann on his strike “The goal was hugely important and came at exactly the right time. We absolutely deserved to win today.”
His counterpart Grammozis was disappointed with the result, but noted “the quality” of Hofmann who was “in the right place, at the right time” for the opening Karlsruhe goal.
“We threw everything forward again and in the end we had another great chance through Honsak,” he said. “The second goal after a counter-attack is normal when you’re so open.”
Elsewhere on Saturday
VfL Bochum blasted away the cobwebs with a 3-0 win over 1. FC Heidenheim. Goals came from Anthony Losilla, Jordi Osei-Tutu and Silvère Ganvoula. Erzgebirge Aue picked up another home win, beating SV Sandhausen 3-1, whilst a late penalty from Andreas Albers completed Jahn Regensburg’s comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Kiel.