First vs second, before this weekend’s games this was the highlight match. Two sides in impressive form and were surprising plenty in the first half of the season. Both wanted to go into the break on a high and although the two teams didn’t get the win they wanted, they gave fans a good show with the great football being produced on the pitch.
The first shot of the game came in the second minute as Pascal Groß tried his luck from range, however Christian Mathenia was alert to the early threat and parried the effort out for a corner.
Darmstadt started brightly and it wasn’t long before they had the lead. After five minutes a corner from Milan Ivana saw Aytac Sulu leap well to win a header, the effort struck a defender and fortunately fell to the unmarked Hanno Behrens, who had an easy tap in on the line.
Ingolstadt came close to a response when Groß tried his luck from a freekick out wide, the curling effort flew just wide.
The league leaders found the equaliser after twenty minutes and it was a moment of magic from Groß, a freekick outside the area saw him brilliantly whip his effort round the wall and into the top corner, wrong footing Mathenia and leaving the keeper with no chance.
In the thirty-ninth minute Sulu leapt brilliantly once again this time from a well delivered freekick from Ivana, his header had Ramazan Özcan beaten, unfortunately he was denied by the crossbar. A minute after that chance Ingolstadt grabbed the lead in fantastic fashion. Mathew Leckie did brilliantly in flicking the ball over a defender before playing Stefan Lex through, the pass bounced up perfectly for Lex to fire a stunning strike past Mathenia and into the top corner.
The last chance of the game was from a freekick, in a dangerous position Fabian Holland had the chance to get his side level. Despite slipping as he struck the shot, it almost crept in, Özcan however was able to save.
The first half was an entertaining battle between the two sides and didn’t open up with too many clear cut chances, however there was some good football on show and the game was being played at a good tempo.
Five minutes into the second half Leckie and Lex linked up once more, Leckie playing the ball through the legs of a defender, Lex however couldn’t decide weather to shoot or cross from a tough angle, the ball trickled across goal and away from danger.
A minute after that opportunity Darmstadt levelled the scoring. Ivana was played through down the right and he brilliantly cut back to lose a defender and delightfully cross to the back post to find an unmarked Marcel Heller. The winger had no trouble in putting his volley past Özcan and into the back of the net.
Darmstadt were starting to get on top after equalising and they came close to retaking the lead on the hour mark. A short corner was poked towards Sulu on the edge of the area and his shot flew just wide of the post.
Another good chance for the hosts saw Marco Sailer played through and from a tight angle he unleashed a powerful strike which clipped the top of the bar.
Alfredo Morales’ cross almost saw Mathenia gift Ingolstadt a goal, the keeper was fortunate that his failed catch fell to Romain Brégerie and not to the larking Tomáš Pekhart.
As the game ticked into the last ten minutes Morales tried scoring with a volley and it almost paid off, the attempt took a deflection off Sulu and Mathenia managed to get across goal well to save.
The game ended on a bad note, Ingolstadt keeper Özcan stood on the edge of the penalty area and time wasted for a minute until the referee blow the whistle. Darmstadt players weren’t happy about it and some of the Ingolstadt players wanted their keeper to continue. Despite the sour ending, both sides would’ve accepted the draw.
The draw means Darmstadt extend their unbeaten run to ten games with six draws and four wins. They needed a win to go into the winter break in second place, however it wasn’t to be and they’ll have to settle for an impressive third place. Ingolstadt extend their unbeaten run to five games, with four wins and one draw. They go into the break as mid-season champions with forty points and just the one loss.
When the 2.Bundesliga returns in February Darmstadt will travel to Aalen, while Ingolstadt travel to Greuther Fürth.
Article for VAVEL.