In football it is easy to talk about a lucky hand, but with Urs Fischer on Saturday you simply couldn’t avoid this phrase. Despite the outstanding performance in the win against Leipzig a week ago, the 1. FC Union coach made three changes and ordered Danilo Doekhi, Niko Gießelmann and Morten Thorsby into the starting XI. “In ten days the triple load will start and one or the other player will need minutes,” Fischer explained his measure before kick-off on Sky.
A little later, Gießelmann crossed wide into the penalty area after a short corner kick, Doekhi prevailed with his head and Thorsby completed the goal in the six-yard box. It was the perfect start to the game and even though FC Schalke 04 was able to equalize with a penalty from former Union player Marius Bülter, the Berliners continued their dream start to the season. Sheraldo Becker scored a brace, Janik Haberer scored from long range and Sven Michel scored the final point. Union won 6-1 (3-1) in front of 62,271 spectators and took the top spot in the Bundesliga for the first time – at least for a few hours. “The team is doing great at the moment, but we know how to classify it,” said manager Oliver Ruhnert.
The fact that Union is currently bursting with self-confidence was clearly evident in the Schalke Arena in the early minutes. As against Leipzig, the Berliners didn’t have much possession of the ball, but switched again at lightning speed. In the fifth minute it was the usual suspects again. Jordan Siebatcheu Pefok passed to Becker and the Surinamese international forced Alexander Schwolow to make a brilliant save in the Schalke goal. The corner that followed led to the 1:0 and that woke the Gelsenkircheners out of their initial sleepiness. Frederik Rönnow reacted just as well against a volley from Simon Terodde as against a header from Malick Thiaw. Overall, however, with their limited playful resources, Schalke hardly managed to get the Berlin defensive into trouble.
Robin Knoche took over in the middle of the first half. First, Union’s defense chief was beheaded in the penalty area on the arm, but referee Robert Hartmann understandably let it go. A little later, however, Knoche jumped for a header and threw his arm up in the air after a slight push from Terodde. The hand penalty for Schalke was inevitable and Bülter converted safely.
Union shook himself briefly, but then reacted in the style of a top team. After a cross from Gießelmann, Jordan laid it down for Becker and his shot, which was actually harmless, was deflected and deflected. While the two Union strikers were cheering in front of the guest block, a Berlin photographer fell right next to it and had to be treated. The game was interrupted for three minutes, then the all-clear was given.
However, this incident did not upset Union either. Shortly before the half-time whistle, Haberer took a corner kick from 25 meters that was blocked in the middle. His full-span shot was quite central, but so sharp and concealed that Schwolow had no chance to defend himself.