Awoniyi scores winner to beat Bochum


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1. FC Union Berlin secured a fifth-placed finish in the Bundesliga and a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League group stages with a 3-2 win at home to VfL Bochum.

Taiwo Awoniyi struck on 88 minutes to send the Stadion An der Alten Försterei into wild celebrations after Bochum had come from behind to make it 2-2.

Grischa Prömel opened the scoring after five minutes while Awoniyi had struck from the penalty spot midway through the half.

1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Trimmel, Oczipka, Knoche, Jaeckel, Ryerson (Öztunali 81); Khedira (Behrens 81), Prömel, Haraguchi (Schäfer 66); Awoniyi, Becker (Michel 18 (Voglsammer 45))

VfL Bochum: Esser; Soares, Bella Kotchap (Holtmann 65), Gamboa, Bockhorn; Losilla, Tesche (Löwen 45), Asano (Bonga 78), Osterhage; Polter, Zoller

Ahead of 1. FC Union Berlin’s final match of the league season, the fans and club waved goodbye to a group of players who have made a special contribution to the club. Leaving the club this summer are: Grischa Prömel, Jakob Busk, Suleiman Abdullahi, Anthony Ujah and Bastian Oczipka. The first three contributed to promotion in 2018/19 and the club’s early establishment in the Bundesliga. The players came out for the warm-up with special t-shirts to show the squad’s support for Timo Baumgartl who has been forced to miss the remainder of the season due to health issues. Union could not have asked for the better start than the first five minutes. Genki Haraguchi was first to the ball in the inside-right channel, crossed brilliantly and there was Prömel to head home on his first match for the club. Sheraldo Becker was lively and busy in the opening stages but took two knocks in the first quarter of an hour. Coach Urs Fischer had to make an 18th-minute change, replacing the injured Dutchman with Sven Michel. Prömel, who will make the switch to Hoffenheim in the summer, played a hand in the second goal on 24 minutes. The midfielder connected well with Michel who took the chance to shoot at goal, but Robert Tesche dived in with his arm in the air. Referee Marco Fritz ignored the initial claims after was given the nod to check the monitor by video assistant referee Pascal Müller, and on his second examination gave a spot kick to Union. Awoniyi stepped up to score past Michael Esser and mark his 20th career Bundesliga goal for Union, his 14th of this season. And that was largely all of the attacking opportunities for both teams despite Thomas Reis’ Bochum having a couple of sights at the box. Shortly before the half was out, a loose ball found Takumo Asano at the edge of the area but Andreas Luthe put all his weight behind his only serious save of the half.

Fischer introduced Andreas Voglsammer for Michel at the break, while Bochum’s Reis also made a substitution. On 48 minutes, Awoniyi found space in the box but hit the side-netting from a good position. At the other end, Asano had time and space to pull one back inside the 18-yard-box but shot wide of Andreas Luthe’s right-hand post. A goal from Simon Zoller brought Bochum back into the match against the run of play, but Union had plenty of opportunities to kill the contest before it became nervy. Awoniyi crossed for substitute Voglsammer after an hour but the header was straight at Michael Esser. The Nigerian striker passed up a massive chance in front of the Bochum goal as Esser got down to block the finish. Robin Knoche’s header from the resulting corner kick on 66 minutes went over the top. Fischer introdcued Andras Schäfer into the fray following his sensational fourth goal in Freiburg last weekend. The Hungarian was denied on 71 minutes but the visitors from Bochum were starting to cause one or two issues at the other end. Bochum substitute Eduard Löwen took advantage of defensive mistakes to make it 2-2 with nine minutes of the game to go. Levin Öztunali and Kevin Behrens got the quick nod to try and rescue Union’s hopes, while a new wind of support and chanting came from the stands. Chances fell for both Behrens and Öztunali but it would be Union’s top scorer Awoniyi who would make it 15 for the season at the death. On 88 minutes, he controlled a long ball brilliantly under pressure before slotting past Esser and sparking wild celebrations in Köpenick.

As a result of Union’s three points, the Köpenick club will go straight into the group stages of the UEFA Europa League next season.

Awoniyi scores winner to beat Bochum

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