1. FC Heidenheim kept up the pressure on the 2. Bundesliga top three with a comfortable victory against FC Erzgebirge Aue.
Marc Schnatterer had a first-half penalty saved but early in the second half forced a Calogero Rizzuto own goal, before Konstantin Kerschbaumer made it two.
Aue were desperately lacklustre and Stefan Schimmer put the shine on the result with a late third for Frank Schmidt’s side, who remain fourth.
The promotion push is on
Heidenheim came into the game with the top three beckoning, especially with VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV, who have been faltering to various degrees, both in action at the same time. Schmidt is usually quite coy about his side’s chances but said his side would be ready if an opportunity to move into the promotion places came.
After the game, he was focused on the immediate picture. “We are happy that we won the game and finished the English week with seven points,” he said, satisfied with his side performance both today and over the past week.
They have taken a bit of time to get going again after the long break, losing to VfL Bochum before a low-key win over SV Wehen Wiesbaden and the midweek goalless draw against FC St. Pauli. They showed glimpses of their best in the second half here though.
Schnatterer, not a figure Heidenheim are so dependent on any more, did well to force the first goal whilst Niklas Dorsch, as ever pulling the strings, played a superb ball to set up Schimmer’s third. They remained more functional than attractive at other times, but with other teams around them losing their heads, keeping hold of theirs could lead them into causing a major upset at the end of the season.
Schnatter penalty saved
The game took a while to get going. Heidenheim, set up with their usual 4-2-3-1, had control of possession but Aue had marginally the better sights of goal. Dirk Schuster had made five changes from the midweek defeat to SV Darmstadt 98 after club president Helge Leonhardt had criticised his lack of rotation in that game. They switched from a back three to a 4-4-2, which didn’t seem to unsettle them too much, at least in the first half.
One of the personnel changes was to bring back Martin Männel after suspension, and the Violas’ goalkeeper and captain would soon have a massive part to play. David Otto, starting ahead of the suspended Tim Kleindienst, was caught just inside the box by John-Patrick Strauß, with Robert Kempter giving a penalty. Schnatterer took it, but Männel quickly guessed which way he was going and kept it out.
Soon after Aue came close to taking the lead, as Jan Hochscheidt’s shot from outside the box may have had Kevin Müller worried before it sailed wide. Tom Baumgart’s effort a little later went more comfortably wide. In between, there were too chances for Otto, heading wide before the second needed diverting wide by Männel. They would have wanted to test him more in the first half, however.
Aue gone in 15 minutes
They quickly put that right after the break. After an exchange of passes between Tobias Mohr and Otto, Schnatterer’s volley was saved by Männel, before being sent straight back to the Heidenheim captain. Malcolm Cacutalua cleared his second attempt. The danger had not passed though. Marnon Busch crossed back in, Otto knocked it down for Schnatterer, with his effort diverted in by an unlikely Rizzuto.
Pascal Testroet, quiet on his return to the team, had a shot saved by Kevin Müller but Heidenheim were really starting to get going now. Schnatterer and Busch were posing a threat down the right side, but the second goal came from the left. Heidenheim countered in a 4-vs-4 situation, with Mohr’s cross finding Kerschbaumer. He just beat Philipp Riese to the ball, heading in. 15 minutes into the second half, and the game was already looking safe.
Heidenheim were able to take the foot of the gas and Aue were virtually harmless. Schuster tried to freshen up his attack but to no avail, whilst top scorer Dimitrij Nazarov didn’t come on at all. Heidenheim didn’t need a third to make the game safe but they got it anyway. Dorsch played substitute Schimmer clean through, with the striker firmly placing his shot past Männel to wrap up the win.
Heidenheim: Müller, Busch (Strauß 78‘), Mainka, Beermann, Föhrenbach; Dorsch, Griesbeck; Schnatterer (Leipertz 71‘), Kerschbaumer (Theuerkauf 78‘), Mohr (Feick 70‘); Otto (Schimmer 84‘).
Aue: Männel; Rizzuto (Wydra 69‘), Rasmussen, Cacutalua, Kempe; Krüger (Kupusovic 84′), Strauß, Riese, Baumgart (Zulechner 61‘); Hochscheidt; Testroet (Daferner 69‘).
Goals: Rizzuto (48‘ OG), Kerschbaumer (58‘), Schimmer (86‘).
Referee: Robert Kempter.
Elsewhere on Sunday
VfB Stuttgart remain second after a 2-0 win over bottom club Dynamo Dresden, returning to action for the first time since being quarantined earlier in the month. Hamadi Al Ghaddioui and Darko Churlinov scored the goals.
Hamburger SV remain just behind them but found it much more difficult against SV Wehen Wiesbaden. Manuel Schäffler scored twice, including the opener, for Wiesbaden, but largely thanks to a David Kinsombi, Hamburg were able to eke out a 3-2 win.