A goal from Viktor Gyökeres at an eerie Millerntor-Stadion gave FC St. Pauli a 1-0 win over ten-man 1. FC Nürnberg and a bit of breathing space at the wrong end of the table.
Nürnberg had been the better side in the first half but the game changed after Christian Mathenia was sent off for a foul on Henk Veerman.
Substitute Gyökeres’s classy goal came six minutes from the end, leaving Jens Keller’s side in deep trouble, especially with results elsewhere this weekend.
St. Pauli usually have one of the best atmosphere in the league, yet Hells Bells rang out through an empty Millerntor as the two teams somewhat informally made their way out to the pitch, disposing of face masks as they went. A sad but necessary scene in these strange times.
“Football lives through its fans – reforms now” called on a lone banner in the stand, with the fans making their feelings clear about ghost games and the state of football in general.
“This is a completely new situation for all of us and for me as well,” admitted St. Pauli’s Waldemar Sobota before the game. “I’ve been playing football for a few years, but haven’t seen anything like it.”
On the sporting side of things, both sides needed a win to move further away from danger, especially with VfL Bochum and Karlsruher SC both winning on Saturday. Der Club came into the game one point clear of the bottom three, with St. Pauli only a point better off.
St. Pauli lined-up as expected, with Sebastian Ohlsson and Henk Veerman returning to the line-up compared to the XI that started against SV Sandhausen in March, however Jens Keller made a couple of surprise choices for Nürnberg, including preferring Adam Zreľák to Michael Frey up front.
Nürnberg had the better of the first half, with Nikola Dovedan having a very early chance go wide. St. Pauli’s only notable opportunity of the opening 45 minutes was a good one, with Dimitrios Diamantakos heading down only for Ryo Miyaichi’s effort to be parried by Mathenia, who also dealt with the rebound effort from Rico Benatelli.
The chances began to mount up for Nürnberg, with Robin Himmelmann making two top class saves from Tim Handwerker and Johannes Geis free kicks. However the best chance fell to Dovedan. Robin Hack crossed to him Himmelmann came off his line, only for the Austrian to blast over the empty net.
The big talking point of the game came ten minutes after the break. Veerman was played clear through however Mathenia rushed out and appeared to bring the Dutchman down. The referee Daniel Siebert initially gave nothing but after consulting VAR he gave the Nürnberg goalkeeper a straight red card. There from few complaints from him.
Jos Luhukay’s side understandably dominated after that. Sebastian Ohlsson couldn’t keep his volley down and Gyökeres had an effort saved. But the substitute would be the decided. Found on the left by Soobta, he cut onto his right foot, beating substitute keeper Felix Dornebusch. Song 2 played on the tannoy, but it wouldn’t have been the same without the fans.
St. Pauli: Himmelmann; Ohlsson, Östigard, Buballa; Miyaichi, Benatelli (Lawrence 87’), Knoll, Penney (Gyökeres 67’); Sobota (Flum 86’); Veerman (Tashchy 86’), Diamantakos (Becker 38’).
Nürnberg: Mathenia, Sorg, Mavropanos, Margreitter, Handwerker; Nürnberger, Geis (Dornebusch 56‘); Dovedan (Schleusener 64′), Behrens (Erras 78‘), Hack (Heise 78‘); Zreľák (Frey 64‘).
Goals: Gyökeres (84’).
Sent Off: Mathenia (55’).
Nürnberg skipper Hanno Behrens said after the game that “it was a strange feeling without the fans,” but felt they had coped well with the circumstances. He also felt they “had to take the lead” before the red card.
“We then did well with the man disadvantage, and still had our chances,” added Keller, who found the result “very annoying.”
Luhukay felt his side had “good fortune… against a strong Nürnberg side who caused us problems.” He added he felt they had “lacked precision” in front of goal but he praised Gyökeres’s “dynamism, pace and ability in front of goal” for helping them get the three points.
Elsewhere on Sunday
There was late drama in all three of the other games. Wehen Wiesbaden completed a shock double over VfB Stuttgart with Phillip Tietz’s penalty the final kick of the game. Marcos Alvarez came off the bench to earn VfL Osnabrück a point against leaders Arminia Bielefeld, and Havard Nielsen’s second of the game denied Hamburger SV a vital three points against SpVgg