Augsburg progress in Europa League with miracle in Belgrade

Berlin, Dec. 11, (GNA/dpa) – Augsburg progressed to the knock-out stages of the Europa League Thursday with a sensational 3-1 win away to Partizan Belgrade to eliminate the hosts on goal difference in the last round of the group phase.

Goals from Hong Jeon Ho and Paul Verhaegh overturned Aboubakar Oumarou’s opener for Partizan but as Augsburg needed to win by two clear goals to progress this was not enough. After Partizan’s Andrija Zivkovic was sent off late on, Raul Bobadilla headed the decisive goal in the 89th minute.

Lokomotiv Moscow, Sporting Lisbon, Fiorentina, Anderlecht, Marseille, Fenerbahce, Sion and Midtjylland also secured places in the last 32.

Augsburg had lost their first two games in Group L, including 3-1 at home to Partizan, before recovering with consecutive wins over AZ Alkmaar.

But travelling to the intimidating Stadion Partizana they still faced an uphill battle to earn a clear win to match their hosts on nine points and cancel out their inferior head-to-head record.

Initially Augsburg were overrun and Oumarou’s 11th minute strike put Partizan in a commanding position.

Hong headed in a free kick in first half injury time and Verhaegh swept home after collecting a glorious chip from Daniel Baier early in the second half to set up a dramatic finale.

Partizan missed chances to kill the tie and Augsburg also had a let-off when keeper Marwin Hitz was beaten by Nikola Ninkovic’s shot which smacked the bar.

At the other end Caiuby failed one-on-one but the turning point was Zivkovic’s second yellow card for a needless handball. Caiuby then set up Bobadilla’s last-gasp winner to spark wild scenes of celebration for Augsburg, who go through by virtue of a superior goal difference to Partizan.

“We are overjoyed,” said Coach Markus Weinzierl, who is leading Augsburg in their first ever European campaign.

“No one gave us a chance of winning 3-1 here – except ourselves. Compliments to my team, they have now been rewarded for the great effort in making the game”