1. FC Union Berlin drew 3-3 this afternoon in Austria with Serie A side Udinese.
The side from northern Italy ran into a two-goal lead but Union pulled one back through Rani Khedira towards the end of the first half. Urs Fischer’s side equalised as Sheraldo Becker’s cross was turned home by an Udinese defender, while Robin Knoche eventually levelled for a second time to make it three-all.
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow; Ryerson, Jaeckel, Heintz, Knoche, Gießelmann; Schäfer (Kemlein 79), Khedira, Haberer (Öztunali 65); Becker (Skarke 65), Siebatcheu
Udinese: Padelli, Rodrigo, Benkovic, Nuytnick, Soppy (Molina 65), Udogie, Walace (Lovric 65), Arslan (Jajalo 65), Makengo (Palumbo 75), Deulofeu (Nestorovski 15), Pereyra (Success 65)
Saturday’s friendly gave an opportunity for the remainder of the squad to face strong opposition ahead of the new season. The team that followed Friday’s 1-0 win over Dynamo Budejovice featured two new signings – Janik Habrerer and Jordan Siebatcheu. Gerard Deulofeu, a former Spanish international and Barcelona player, was one of the most recognisable names in the Serie A side’s setup. The Spaniard tested Union as early as the fourth minute with a skip into space and a shot past Frederik Rönnow’s goal. With Union back into their preferred formation from last season, it was all about automatisms and getting a feel for the new faces. There were a couple of chances to shoot for the team in red and white but little to sing home about. On 9 minutes, Sheraldo Becker was bundled over, which allowed Julian Ryerson the chance to take a strike at goal from a free-kick but the Norwegian missed the target. It was an extremely untidy opening to the game with lots of fouls and a stop-start nature. Deulofeu was taken off after a quarter of an hour due to an injury and this stoppage didn’t help proceedings.Udinese took full advantage of the water break on 23 minutes. Union switched off at the restart of play and Ilya Nestorovski sweeped home a shot from the edge of the box after 26 minutes. Following Taiwo Awoniyi’s exit this summer, Urs Fischer and his staff will be hoping the likes of Becker and Siebatcheu can click ahead of the season start on August 1. Against physical and robust defenders, the two showed promising signs, interchanging and linking without testing the Udinese goalkeeper Daniele Pardelli. The Dutch winger did everything right to set up the American-born striker but Udinese were in first to clear. Niko Gießelmann was denied on 31 minutes before Becker struck over from a free-kick on 38 minutes. Udinese’s second goal was inspired by a lung-bursting run from Brandon Soppy who set up substitute Nestorovski who finished off with turn and shot. Less than a minute later, Union’s captain-for-the-day Rani Khedira stepped up to fire one back and give Union some confidence going into the break.
The equaliser arrived four minutes into the start of the second half with Union having come out of the blocks stronger than the Italians. Becker was key: he came in from the right, crossed into the area and while Siebatcheu was set to score, the ball hit Bram Nuytinck and beat Pardelli. Despite Union being on the receiving end of scrappy fouls, the referee decided to clamp down – three Union players were cautioned in the space of three minutes. Robin Knoche beat Makengo to the ball as the Serie A club threatened and they didn’t need to wait long to make it 3-2 as Filip Benkovic headed past Rönnow. After a positive response to Udinese’s third goal, Union fought back on 63 minutes. Gießelmann put the ball into the danger area from deep and Knoche attacked from the back-post to score. Levin Öztunali and Tim Skarke were given the nod and the former Darmstadt man pushed straight from the start to make an impact. Following a further break for hydration, Union came closest to scoring the seventh goal of the day. Öztunali played in Ryerson who attacked from the right, feeding Siebatcheu whose shot trundled past the post. Meanwhile, Aljoscha Kemlein earned more game time with the first-team, replacing Andras Schäfer with around 11 minutes of the game to go. The game started to die down under the strong sun in Lienz despite the best efforts from the travelling supporters to inject some tempo into proceedings. Substitute Molina almost capped off an exciting friendly with a stunning volley for the Italians but Rönnow kept his goal well protected.