VfL started 2019 as they mean to go on with three points at home against near neighbours MSV Duisburg! Despite the nervy ending, VfL Bochum 1848 made the perfect start after the winter break with a 2:1 victory against rivals MSV Duisburg. The hosts enjoyed an impressive first half, with new arrival Simon Zoller scoring his first goal for the club after 13 minutes. VfL veteran Patrick Fabian even got in on the act, scoring in the 21st minute with a powerful header. After the break VfL came close to their third goal, however the visitors were allowed back in the game after an uncharacteristic Riemann mistake after 79 minutes. In the end, Losilla and co were able to grind out a deserved derby day victory in front of 17,810 emphatic VfL supporters.

After an almighty 50-day absence, football was back at Castropher Street. Too long, given the disappointment associated with the last home defeat to FC St. Pauli. Thanks to the impressive 3:2 victory away in Cologne there was a renewed sense of serenity around the stadium, with fans optimistically anticipating the second half of the season. As compensation for the lengthy wait between games, the VfL faithful were rewarded with a thrilling 2. Bundesliga derby against relegation-threatened near rivals MSV Duisburg. Sidney Sam and Silvère Ganvoula returned to the Dutt’s squad, with the duo putting in solid performances.

Torsten Lieberknecht is now in the MSV dugout instead of Ilia Gruev, and there were also three newcomers to Duisburg’s starting eleven - Felix Wiedwald came in in goal, with two other changes. Dominik Baumgartner moved into the heart of the VfL defence, with Tim Hoogland missing out through suspension. Simon Zoller also came in to the starting eleven, making up part of Bochum’s attacking trio. He replaced in-form Chung Yong Lee, who like Robbie Kruse, is enjoying a well-deserved breather after his exploits at the Asian Cup.

After patient build-up play from VfL, the deadlock was broken after only ten minutes. The ball fell to Sidney Sam just outside the MSV penalty area, with the winger doing well to turn and catch the ball on the volley. His shot was blocked, however fortuitously fell for new VfL signing Simon Zoller. The 27-year-old made no mistake from twelve yards out and fired the ball with his left foot past Felix Wiedwald and in to the bottom corner – the perfect start to 2019.

With their tails, up VfL piled on the pressure and thought that they had their second after 16 minutes. Toto Losilla did brilliantly to flick a Jan Gyamerah cross on and in to the corner of the goal, however assistant referee Dominik Schaal raised his flag and correctly to rule out the goal. A welcome relief for the visitors, however a sign of things to come for VfL. Bochum veteran Patrick Fabian added to VfL’s dominant start and doubled the lead on the 21st minute. He rose the highest to power a header past Wiedwald and in to the back of the net to the delight of 17,810 fans.

The hosts perhaps took their foot off the gas after their second, with Duisburg slowly retaining possession just before the break. The visitors came close; however, they could not find a way past Manu Riemann in the VfL goal. Robin Dutt’s side took a two goal lead in to the dressing room and were met by rapturous applause from the home faithful after an impressive showing in the first 45 minutes.

Both teams resumed unchanged, with VfL starting the second half like they finished the first – on top. The MSV boss made the first change of the game, bringing on former Bochum player Sukuta-Pasu for Gyau. Chances were few and far between as the game was contested in midfield with both teams tackling with passion. Despite the lack of chances, the visitors rose in confidence and started to keep the ball.

Dutt tried to weather the storm with the introduction of Sebastian Maier, as he replaced debutant Simon Zoller. Another debutant, 22-year-old Dominik Baumgartner, put in an impressive display in the VfL defence as the Austrian bravely put his body on the line to keep Manu Riemann’s clean sheet intact.

Despite the valiant VfL defending, the Ruhrstadion faithful had to endure a nervy final ten minutes after an uncharacteristic Manu Riemann mistake. The usually ever-reliant 30-year-old had a moment of madness on the 79th minute. Ahmet Engin’s cross was met by Baumgartner, whose header floated in the air for Riemann to come and easily collect. Instead of catching the ball, Riemann decided to punch, however unfortunately mistimed his effort and sent the ball spiralling in the air and behind him to Havard Nielsen’s delight. The MSV central midfielder gratefully capitalised on the gift and headed home from six yards out. An unfortunate mistake from VfL’s usually reliable goalkeeper.

VfL showed great spirit and courage to rally behind their goalkeeper and defend brilliantly for the final ten minutes. Despite continual MSV pressure, Dutt’s men remained solid and held out for a vital three points at home. They start 2019 as they mean to go on, with an impressive performance and more importantly, three points. VfL move up to 30 points after 18 games and look to add three more when they travel to SV Sandhausen on Sunday.