Faton Toski grabbed two goals and three assists as Bochum gave Aue a harsh lesson in the virtues of taking your chances. Despite the hosts bossing the ball in the opening 45 minutes of this Sunday afternoon 2. Bundesliga clash between two mid-table sides, Aue actually had more chances, but were profligate and up against Bochum’s impressive goalkeeper, Andreas Luthe. But, at the other end, Toski and Christoph Kramer helped tear Aue open, with Marcel Maltritz, Mirkan Aydın and Toski himself scoring the goals that gave coach Andreas Bergmann’s side a 3-0 lead at the break. The hosts added two more goals to their tally shortly after the restart, with Toski unplayable and Aue seemingly having thrown in the towel, before Aydın grabbed his second and Bochum’s sixth to cap a memorable day.
The away side made much the better start, hitting their narrow hosts down the flanks and just generally showing more hunger and power early on. Nevertheless, Luthe was relatively untroubled in the Bochum goal during the first five minutes, and Maltritz stuck to burly dangerman Ronny König like glue. And, it was the home side who had the first real chance of the match through Jong Tae-Se. The North Korean star sliced his right-footed effort wide under little pressure, mind – getting the opportunity in the first place after Aue made a meal of clearing a free-kick, and then being played onside by the ball-watching, trudging-out Adli Lachheb. A minute later, a square was played across the edge of the box to Takashi Inui, who cleverly let the ball run across his body, before having his shoulder-dropping, dummy-throwing jinx halted just before he pulled the trigger.
Bergmann had set his side up in an interesting 4-1-3-2 shape – something Aue coach Rico Schmitt looked to counter when his side were out of possession by standing his 4-2-3-1 quite high, with wide corridors in between the banks conspicuous only by their absence. The Bochum shape was less attack-minded in practice than it reads on screen, because Inui was playing between the lines and dropping back to get the ball, while Christoph Dabrowski often veered inside alongside Kramer (Toski, who normally plays as a winger, had no hestiation in coming upfield to provide the left-sided width). But, the game was extremely bitty in the opening 15 minutes, with Aue looking to bludgeon their way through when they had the ball, and pressing and sucking the life out of Bochum’s game when they didn’t.
The hosts’ playmaker, Inui, was on the fringes of the game early on, but he did show one or two signs of what he could do – cutting in off the left flank and firing off a right-footed shot in the 14th minute, for instance. Although that particular effort got blocked, it allowed Bochum to remain in the final-third of the pitch with the ball, and Inui eventually won a free-kick on the same left-hand channel after René Klingbeil scythed the Japanese starlet down. Toski’s left-footed set-piece was absolutely perfect, and Maltritz – again in a tangle with König – bundled the ball in at the back-post for 1-0!
After taking the lead, Bochum looked a lot more dynamic both in and out of possession. Despite Aue getting two – wasted – half-chances, the home side looked in control of proceedings, even if they still lacked quality and demonstrated poor decision-making in the final-third as we approached the quarter-way stage of the match. Bergmann now seemed to have abandoned having a left-sided midfielder altogether, with Dabrowski having moved into a permanent infield position (although he and Kramer were covering so much ground), and the two strikers now taking it in turns to peel into the left channel to receive a pass. Bochum were comfortable doing this at this stage because they had a near-monopolization of possession. König was looking isolated up top for the visitors, who were struggling to make their quick-fire, direct, hit-them-on-the-break game-plan function.
The hosts were doing the majority of their attacking down the right, where Giovanni Federico was causing Kevin Schlitte numerous problems. One attack in the 28th minute saw some pass-and-move football played down this channel and then just off the D, before a reserve through-ball was played to Toski, whose disguised dart had allowed him to reach the left-hand side of the box all alone. However, his fancy and awkward-looking left-foot little-toe curl towards the bottom right-hand corner was easy for Männel.
Despite the goalkeeper setting his team on the break, and Guido Kocer setting up a great headed chance for Jan Hochscheidt, Luthe was equal to it. And, maintaining a real several-minute passage of end-to-end football, Bochum went at their guests again, with Inui exposing Aue’s high offside trap – spoilt because Thomas Paulus didn’t step up quick enough – by slipping in the impressive Kramer, who had pierced through one of the visitors’ banks for the umpteenth time with one of his characteristic leggy, driving runs. The young midfielder reached Männel’s box, before squaring for Aydın to make it 2-0!
Luthe was again called into action several times after his outfield colleagues had given the side a two-goal cushion (the visitors occasionally getting some luck by raiding the empty channels, or by playing off König whenever he had the rare luxury of support or had avoided the close attentions of both Maltritz and Jonas Acquistapace), and each time, the Velbert-born 24-year-old dealt with whatever was thrown at him in a cool, unflappable and impenetrable manner. For all their defensive lapses and time spent out of possession, Aue actually created more chances than Bochum in the opening 40 minutes, and had they been more clinical and not up against an in-form Luthe, it could have been they rather than the home side going into the half-time break with the lead.
But, after first seeing a free-kick just off the D blocked in the 40th minute, a minute later, Toski fared a lot better with another set-piece positioned just off the right-hand side of the box. His left-footed, bouncing curler left Männel motionless as it crept inside the goalkeeper’s left-hand post, handing Bochum a 3-0 lead. As much as the scoreline indicated that the game looked finished already, the Bochum fans won’t have been comfortable at half time given the amount of chances Aue had created on such little possession, and also because of the fact that their side shipped four goals at Eintracht Braunschweig only last weekend.
Schmitt made one change at the break, replacing Lachheb with Fabian Müller. Aue’s ability to get in behind Bochum hadn’t been altered, though, as epitomised in the first minute of the second half when Kocer showed Björn Kopplin a clean pair of heels, before planting a cross on König’s head (the effort, alas, sailed over the bar). A minute or two later, an irritated Marc Hensel personified Aue’s frustration at how things were going by getting into a confrontation with Dabrowski before a corner-kick was delivered. The referee had words, before whistling for the home side to put the ball back into play. It was hit towards the D, where Dabrowski was allowed to get away with a feeble trap. Nobody in yellow closed the loose ball down, however, allowing Toski to fire a first-time, right-footed (!), half-volley thunderbolt into the bottom left-hand corner for 4-0!
Again, Aue rallied – their best chance in the immediate aftermath of Toski’s second goal coming when the man himself fouled Müller, allowing Tobias Kempe to sting Luthe’s fingertips with a sharp right-footed free-kick which the ‘keeper did well to hold on to. Out of possession, Aue’s shape was still good whenever Bochum knocked the ball about aimlessly, but as soon as some urgency was injected into the hosts’ passing or the play switched, the visitors either took too long or no longer had the desire to respond. As had been the case in the first-half, it wasn’t as if Bochum had been doing anything exceptional with the ball – they were just allowed to keep hold of it too easily, and seized on openings whenever or wherever they presented themselves.
So, it was no surprise when Bochum grabbed their fifth goal one minute shy of the hour mark. Müller and Hochscheidt did little to close down a relatively slow one-two move on the flank, allowing Toski to easily skip into the box and pick where and when he wanted to pass the ball. He plumped for a pull-back, laying a tap-in on a plate for Federico – who had jogged through the D with the Aue centre-midfielders ball-watching – to make it 5-0!
After Hochscheidt showed straight after the fifth goal that Toski wasn’t as good defensively as he was in attack by beating him to the byline and winning a corner thanks to his inviting cross, Schmitt decided to make another personnel change, with Kocer going off in place of Mike Könnecke. A few minutes later, Kevin Vogt took the place of Federico for Bochum. The hosts barely pressed as we neared the 70-minute mark, sitting off in a 4-4-2-cum-4-3-2-1 (Inui dropping back or alongside Aydın accordingly, with Dabrowski switching between left-sided midfielder and left-sided centre-midfielder).
The game, unsurprisingly, was rather flat at this stage, with Aue veering between not even bothering or being a bit too direct, hasty and clumsy in trying to bag a consolation goal. Oliver Schröder, to his credit, was trying to take control – although noting that it was too late to be pulling the strings, being hungry to get on the ball and releasing the full-backs with some clever through-passes when his side were 5-0 down with about ten minutes to go is probably me just stating the obvious.
More substitutions followed, with Kramer making way for Andreas Johansson, Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson coming on for Maltritz and Christian Cappek replacing the too-easily marshalled König. Before the latter two changes, Hensel looked odds-on to reduce the deficit, but again, Luthe made a fine – this time point-blank – save to preserve his clean sheet. Poor Männel’s sheet, however, was anything but clean. In the 83rd minute, Toski came dribbling out from the back again, and with Aue’s defensive line horrendously misshapen, the left-back had the pick of two players to push a through-ball to. Ignoring Inui, who perhaps went too early, Toski slipped in Aydın, who coolly buried the ball for 6-0!
A surreal two minutes followed after Bochum’s sixth, with the two Aue centre-backs passing solely among themselves and the ‘keeper, as Bochum stood off. It was as if the game had been stopped due to an injury, and the three players were slowly rolling the ball to one another because they were bored. In reality, of course, Schmitt and his players were fearful of leaking a seventh goal, or maybe even an eighth. But, they didn’t, aided by the fact that all 22 players had stopped trying and the referee’s decision not to play any injury time. Those few Bochum fans that had turned up to this match roared their approval at the final whistle, singing Toski’s name for some time after the game was over.