Relegation Report – Nürnberg 2-0 Ingolstadt: Der Club dominate first leg

1. FC Nürnberg outplayed FC Ingolstadt 04 as they take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their ‘Relegation’ play-off.

Fabian Nürnberger scored both goals in the first half, and it could have been more if not for Marco Knaller in goal and Mikael Ishak being penalised twice for offside.

Ingolstadt offered very little return and have it all to do in the second leg, which is on Saturday, if they want to return to the 2. Bundesliga.

Ingolstadt have no response to rejuvenated Nürnberg

Since the 1-1 draw with Holstein Kiel that ultimately resulted in them having to play this game, there’s been a change of coach at Nürnberg with Michael Wiesinger, with help from Marek Mintal, replacing Jens Keller. During the week he has talked about created a ‘new spirit’ amongst the team, and the impact of this was apparent from the off.

That it took Nürnberg 22 minutes to break the deadlock was a surprise in itself. Ingolstadt had no response to their charge before the appropriately-named Nürnberger, as if it was written in the stars, finally got the first goal.

The relentlessness of the attacking tapered off but Nürnberg remained well on top for the rest of the match. Tomas Oral, Ingolstadt’s defensive-minded coach, couldn’t figure out a way of getting the better of Wehen Wiesbaden at this stage last season, and the same was true here. His response, or lack of, was as if Plan A was working absolutely fine.

Admittedly without the experienced Stefan Kutschke, not fit despite Oral’s statements to the otherwise the day before, their attack lacked quality and the coach’s options from the bench were limited. He has to find an answer before Saturday’s second leg though – stopping Nürnberg scoring any more is one thing, actually getting back in the tie is another thing altogether.

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Early onslaught sets the tone

Wiesinger had made five changes to the team from the Kiel match, with Enrico Valentini, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Nürnberger, Ishak and Adam Zreľák all coming in. As well as Kutschke, Michael Heinloth dropped out of the team that beat 1860 Munich at the weekend, with Björn Paulsen and top scorer Dennis Eckert Ayensa coming in.

The progress made under Wiesinger and Mintal was clear from the off as they completely dominated the opening stages. Ishak had the first big chance, heading into the cross bar, before Zreľák headed wide a Tim Handwerker shot, before Handwerker himself had an effort saved by Knaller.

They thought the pressure had finally told when Robin Hack’s ball was put in by Ishak, however the Swede had been offside. It didn’t matter though, as just a few minutes later they did take the lead. Nürnberger struck from the edge of the box with the ball out of the reach of Knaller.

Der Club’s bombardment lessened somewhat after that, but Ingolstadt, not helped by an injury to Maximilain Beister, showed very little quality in return. A header wide from Eckert did at least count as a shot, whilst Maximilian Thalhammer, after a long throw, struck well off target.

Ishak should have made it two at the other end shortly, after an excellent cross from Valentini, but if his head did make a connection it wasn’t enough to direct it on goal. But on the cusp of half time, Nürnberger struck again. Zreľák got a head onto a long throw to find him, and he showed lethalness that has been lacking from their actual strikers all season to beat Knaller again.

Hosts unable to add to lead

Little changed after half time. Ingolstadt had a couple of free kicks but couldn’t make the most of them, but they appeared to be more solid at the back. Knaller was called into action again though to palm away a dangerous Ishak effort, whilst a diving header from Hack was straight at him.

Nürnberger, who didn’t score at all in the regular season, was on the prowl for a hat-trick. One effort wasn’t close, but after that from a tight angle he got the ball above Knaller but not out of the way of the post, with Bjørn Paulsen having forced him wide.

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With both managers reluctant to make changes – only one was made by each before the final ten minutes – the dynamic of the game was static. Nürnberg did think they had their third when Ishak netting again, but like before he was offside when Zreľák knocked on Tim Handwerker’s ball. Hanno Behrens then struck on target but couldn’t beat the solid Knaller.

In stoppage time, Nürnberg had one more chance to really put daylight between them and Ingolstadt, however Michael Frey blasted wide from inches out having been found by Fabian Schleusener. They would have liked another goal to take to Ingolstadt on Saturday but Nürnberg will be happy with the result.

Nürnberg: Mathenia; Valentini, Mavropanos (Mühl 89‘), Sörensen, Handweker; Hack, Erras, Behrens (Schleusener 89‘), Nürnberger; Ishak, Zreľák (Frey 59‘).

Ingolstadt: Knaller; Paulsen, Antonitsch, Schröck, Gaus; Beister (Ananou 30‘ (Hawkins 90+1‘)), Thalhammer, Krauße, Elva; Eckert Ayensa, Kaya (Bilbija 85‘).

Goals: Nürnberger (22‘, 45‘).

Referee: Sascha Stegemann.

Published by jamesrees1989

Football writer. 2. Bundesliga geek. Ex-Football Radar, VAVEL, Read Bundesliga. Tweets at @germanpyramid and @OxonFootball.

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