After the statement victory in the race for Europe, Augsburg coach Jess Thorup allowed himself to jump for joy. After a blackout by Union Berlin’s Diogo Leite, the Fuggerstadters have their sights set on an international starting place in the Bundesliga. Thanks to the 2-0 (0-0) home win on Friday evening, Thorup’s team temporarily reduced the gap to sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt to just three points.

“It was a great evening,” said Augsburg’s goalscorer Phillip Tietz at DAZN, but he didn’t mean the quality of the game. “We couldn’t really find any rooms, I think it was the same the other way around.” His coach had the same opinion. “The most important thing in football is the result,” said FCA coach Jess Thorup, but “you can clearly play better football.”

In the end it didn’t matter; in seventh place, the Augsburg team extended their lead over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and SC Freiburg to three points. If the as-good-as-champions Bayer Leverkusen also win the DFB Cup, seventh place will also be enough for the Europa Conference League playoffs.

Union captain Christopher Trimmel complained about his defensive colleague Leite’s serious bad pass: “The first goal conceded, that happens in football, but in a game like this it’s the can opener for the opponent.” However, there was also a problem offensively; for the 16th time this season, the Berliners remained without a goal of their own. “Unfortunately, we always have a bit of a hard time when we have the ball more. We’re used to having the ball less and switching well,” explained Trimmel. “We’re too imprecise in the final third.”

Union coach Nenad Bjelica said a good cross was missing, a shot on goal. “Everything was given to the people of Augsburg.” His conclusion: “We are heavily involved in the relegation battle. Anyone who doesn’t understand that has no place at Union.”

Leite played a significant role in the defeat in Augsburg. Phillip Tietz (47th) took advantage of his failed back pass in front of 29,731 spectators to score the redeeming FCA goal. “I don’t think it was a nice game from either side,” analyzed Tietz, who thought his goal “came out of nowhere.” Joker Sven Michel, who used to play for Union, made everything clear in the 81st minute. With a further six points lead over relegation place 16, the Berliners remain in the relegation battle.

In the absence of the injured right-backs Kevin Mbabu and Robert Gumny, Thorup initially opted for an experiment with a three-man defense in the 3-1 defeat against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim a week ago. There was no sign of that against Union. From kick-off, Maximilian Bauer, a trained central defender, occupied the right flank.

The Augsburg team, who were also missing the injured Kristijan Jakic, Iago and Fredrik Jensen, initially got themselves into trouble against one of the Bundesliga’s weakest offensive teams. Defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw missed a long ball, goalkeeper Finn Dahmen had to sprint out of the goal and save from Union’s Benedict Hollerbach (12th). This scene only raised the pulse of the Augsburg fans for a very short time.

The Berliners tried to get to the top quickly and directly. And coach Nenad Bjelica’s team always managed this surprisingly well. After a combination via Hollerbach and Mikkel Kaufmann, Alex Kral (26th) slid past a cross by just a few centimeters and was ready to take a shot.

And the Augsburg people? They lacked courage in the first half. They developed neither speed nor force when moving forward. They ended the first 45 minutes without a shot on goal.

The hosts had Leite to thank for their dream start to the second half. The central defender played a back pass straight into Tietz’s feet without any pressure. The former Darmstadt player scored his eighth goal of the season. “Because the mistakes happen, the goals happen,” noted Bjelica. However, FC Augsburg did not gain any security after the opening goal. Michel, who was just not offside, at least made things clear late on, according to video evidence.