For a few seconds there was an unusual silence over the sold-out stadium An der Alten Försterei. Long before the start of the game, the fans of 1. FC Union had begun to bid farewell to this outstanding season. At half time, the Berliners were leading 2-0 against a harmless VfL Bochum, 1. FC Köln were behind in the parallel game, what could go wrong there? But now, it was the 79th minute, Bochum’s Eduard Löwen silenced the stadium with his remarkable flick to make it 2-2.
Suddenly Union was shaking again for the Europa League and the fans felt that the team was shaking. They switched from celebration to cheer mode. “Let’s go Union, fight and win,” echoed the ranks across the lawn. And Union fought and won. Taiwo Awoniyi scored the redeeming goal just before the end. With the 3:2 (2:0) against Bochum in front of 22,012 spectators, the Berliners finish the Bundesliga season in fifth place.
When the final whistle marked the final whistle for Europa League qualification, a few hundred fans stormed onto the pitch, despite all the club’s requests, and sometimes got into serious arguments with the security staff. Many spectators in the stands didn’t like it at all and shouted “We are Unionists and you are not”. The big party mood was only briefly damaged. Later, like last season, we went to the stadium balcony, where the players and coaches were cheered on by thousands of fans in the packed parking lot.
However, the matchday didn’t just end emotionally, it also began that way. Before kick-off, five players, Bastian Oczipka, Anthony Ujah, Suleiman Abdullahi, Jakob Busk and Grischa Prömel, were said goodbye. The last three were already part of the team that made historic promotion to the Bundesliga almost exactly three years ago. Especially Prömel was extensively celebrated.
The game was only a few minutes old when something happened that would probably have been dismissed as excessive kitsch by any screenwriter. Genki Haraguchi had a lot of space on the right side, crossed perfectly into the penalty area and there, exactly, Prömel was there and headed the 1-0.
The goal was very good for the Berliners, but not so much for the game. Union let the ball run, kept throwing a pass into the top and had everything under control. At the end of a very successful season, it was all about nothing for Bochum and you could tell. VfL only got the first shot on goal in injury time, but Takuma Asano was ruled offside.
Union had already increased to 2-0 at this point. The recently outstanding Sheraldo Becker had to be substituted early on with ankle pain and his substitute Sven Michel was again involved in a goal after a few minutes. After Prömel was thrown, he shot from 17 meters, Bochum’s Robert Tesche blocked and after brief contact with the video assistant, referee Marco Fritz ran to the sidelines to watch the scene again. He recognized a handball from Bochum and decided on a penalty. Awoniyi converted into the left corner.
The already good mood of the fans was now even more exuberant, they jumped and sang about Europe. The 22 men on the field could not keep up with the force of the audience. It wasn’t a mild summer kick, but not much worth mentioning happened. The only excitement were two fouls by Michel in quick succession. Bochum demanded a dismissal, but Union’s striker got away with a yellow card and a stern warning. His coach didn’t stop at serious words and didn’t want to take any risks. During the break, Fischer replaced Michel again and brought in Andreas Voglsammer.
After the restart, the action picked up a new pace with a five-minute delay. Awoniyi hit the side netting after a Bochum mishap and shortly afterwards Asano also just missed the goal. It was obvious to the guests that they didn’t just want to be extras at the big Union party, and that was rewarded. After a cross from Danilo Soares, Simon Zoller gave Bochum’s long-time player in the Berlin goal, Andreas Luthe, no chance.
Shortly thereafter, VfL changed offensively and took a lot of risks. This created spaces for Union, which Awoniyi almost used for the reassuring 3-1. But then Löwen scored on the other side, Cologne had equalized in the meantime and in Köpenick the big tremors began. Until Awoniyi met and the big party could finally take its course.