1. FC Union Berlin ran out 2-1 winners at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach to continue the unbeaten start to the Bundesliga.
Goals from Niko Gießelmann and Taiwo Awoniyi put the Köpenick team in the home straight, but Jonas Hofmann netted in stoppage time to make it a nervy finish.
Union: Luthe; Jaeckel, Baumgartl, Knoche, Trimmel, Gießelmann; Öztunali (Teuchert 80), Khedira (Griesbeck 80), Haraguchi (Ryerson 60); Kruse (Voglsammer 80), Awoniyi
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer; Kramer (Zakaria 45), Wolf (Herrmann 45), Stindl, Plea (Bennetts 73), Beyer, Hofmann, Bensebiani, Scally, Elvedi, Neuhaus (Benes 83)
With Marvin Friedrich suspended after last wekeend’s double yellow at Hoffenheim, Urs Fischer recalled Paul Jaeckel to the starting line-up. The summer signing from Greuther Fürth made his first competitive appearance for the Köpenick club in the 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim last Sunday, but was back on the bench as Union secured qualification for the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday. Niko Gießelmann returned to the left-back position after sitting out midweek’s game, while Max Kruse and Levin Öztunali returned to the starting XI. Before the game, Kruse was awarded the 2020 Unioner des Jahres in front of 11,000 supporters at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Union put pressure from the offset on to the Gladbach penalty box with Christopher Trimmel shooting over after three minutes. The Foals weren’t without opportunities of their own and Jordan Beyer stabbed the ball wide from Jonas Hofmann’s corner kick. But with an electric home crowd behind the team, Union once again showed signs of the character which has extended an unbeaten home run to 17 games before today. Kruse broke the away defensive lines to find Genki Haraguchi who crossed expertly for Gießelmann who headed with great control into the opposite corner of the net. Awoniyi found himself clear on Yann Sommer’s goal in the 33rd minute but the Swiss goalkeeper was alert to the situation and kept out a second goal. Despite Union’s sharpness in the box, Gladbach were also capable at the other end. Hannes Wolf squeezed out a shot from a tight angle and Robin Knoche cleared off the line on 35 minutes. The roof was raised after 40 minutes when Taiwo Awoniyi ran the length of the pitch to start the route to goal against three opposition defender. The Nigerian showed great control and composure to feed Kruse who then played in the striker who delivered again, rounding Sommer with nice footwork and slotting home. Before the half was out, Adi Hütter’s side could have cut their arrears but Florian Neuhaus blazed wide with an open goal to shoot at.
The away side, who could count on supporters for the first time in over a year at the Alte Försterei, made two changes at the half with Denis Zakaria and Patrick Herrmann introduced. Borussia Mönchengladbach gave their best to turn the score around after the break, but continued to come up against the metaphorical wall of Union’s defence. Alassane Plea looked set to power down on Andreas Luthe’s goal but back came Timo Baumgartl to make a superb challenge on 53 minutes. Julian Ryerson got the nod on the hour mark to take Haraguchi’s spot in midfield and the Notwegian brought fight and energy when needed. Union went back into the attack-mode, coming closest of either team to the third goal of the day. Max Kruse’s shot was deflected on 65 minutes before Gießelmann agonisingly headed wide of the target. A minute later, as Union bombarded Sommer’s goal, Levin Öztunali was in space but shot wide of the target. The chance went for three goals while Union were on top and the Foals were always going to throw the kitchen sink at Luthe’s goal. Denis Zakaria shot over from 30 yards, while Joe Scally missed after a smart cut back from Herrmann. As Felix Brych let the game roll into three minutes of stoppage time, Union put up the shutters as much as possible. Jonas Hofmann sneaked in a goal, which was checked by the video assistant referee in the second minute of added time. Herrmann was presented with the key chance to level for Mönchengladbach but Trimmel closed the angle enough and the winger shot wide. With a 2-1 victory, Union protect the unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season and extend the home record to 18 matches.