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Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 2
(1 - 1)
F. Nürnberger (43), F. Holland (69)
T. Asano (25), T. Asano (54)

"Jaguar Brace" leads Bochum to first win of the season

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

VfL Bochum have their first win of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign after pulling out a 2-1 victory from a trip to Darmstadt. A brace from Japanese international Takuma "Jaguar" Asano proved sufficient enough to top a Lilly-side once again forced to contend with a sending off of one of their outfielders. 
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Takuma "Jaguar" Asano proved the hero for his team on Friday night as Thomas Letsch's VfL Bochum were able to earn their first win of the season. The Revierklub - contesting their third consecutive season back in the German top flight - were able to top newly-promoted SV Darmstadt 98 at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor. Bochum pull themselves up to 13th place in the table with the victory.

VfL trainer Letsch made three changes to the side that drew Mainz 2-2 in the Friday night fixture seven days ago. Erhan Masovic, Patrick Osterhage, and Philipp Hofmann started in place of the injured Ivan Ordets, Danilo Soares, and Philipp Förster. The personnel changes resulted in a change to a 4-2-3-1 system from the previous 3-3-3-1.

Darmstadt head-coach Torsten Lieberknecht had to make at least two changes after a pair of his starters were suspended following red cards last weekend in the Bayern fixture. The unavailable Klaus Gjasula and Matej Maglica were replaced by Christoph Zimmermann and Jannik Müller. Captain Fain Holland - having recovered from his back problems - also returned to take over for Fabian Schnellhardt.

The two bottom-third table squads certainly demonstrated a great amount of respective ambition in the opening minutes. Chances nevertheless remained at a premium due to sloppiness in the final third. Darmstadt's best chance came in the 9th via a Tim Skarke effort that rattled the post. The visiting Revierklub took the lead in the 25th after clearance errors in the SV98 defensive ranks.

Asano pounced on a loose ball not dealt with decisively by either Darmstadt defender Müller or keeper Marcel Schuhen to give the guests a 1-0 lead. With confidence at their back, Bochum went on to dominate proceedings for much of the rest of the half. The 1848ers ran hard at their opponents, mostly on the left via Asano. It came as a surprise to see Darmstadt equalize against the run of play shortly before the half was out.

Some pinball and a bit of head-tennis in the area enabled Luca Pfeiffer to head over to Fabian Nürnberger in the 43rd. Nürnberger supplied an emphatically headed finish on the 1-1. Darmstadt thought they had even taken the lead off a set-piece at 45+4, but Christoph Klarer's finish was disallowed due to a narrow offside position.

Instead it was Bochum who re-took the lead nine minutes after the restart. Asano completed a brace on the 2-1 in the 54th after some nice set-up work from Anthony Losilla Moritz Broschinski, and Hofmann. Matters appeared all but wrapped up in the 70th when Darmstadt lost yet another player to a red card. This time it was skipper Holland who was sent off for an emergency stop on the subbed-on Moritz-Broni Kwarteng.

Despite being reduced to ten-men again, Darmstadt pressed hard in search of an equalizer. It was the Hessian hosts who had the best chance in the remaining minutes, with Nürnsberger rattling the post off a dead ball in the 85th. Bochum kept it relatively defensive down the stretch, sitting conservatively deep so as to ensure that they would bag their first three points of the season.

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