It is hard to believe in view of the many football and social events, but 1. FC Union made its debut in the Bundesliga just three years and two days ago. Lawn ball sport Leipzig impressively took apart the newly promoted team on August 18, 2019, 4-0, and although the Köpenick crowd celebrated the team for a few minutes afterwards, there was definitely the question of whether such an opponent might just be a few numbers too big.
Three years later, such mind games answer themselves. Union defeated Leipzig with goals from Jordan Siebatcheu Pefok and Sheraldo Becker on Saturday evening in the Bundesliga for the fourth time in a row and missed the first-time lead with the 2-1 (2-0) in front of 21,056 viewers only a measly goal.
As in previous duels, the Berlin fans not only protested against the Austro-Saxon franchise with banners and chants, but also with an atmosphere boycott in the first quarter of an hour. However, the gameplay did not offer too much cause for emotional outbursts. Leipzig had a good 80 percent possession of the ball in the first ten minutes, but they couldn’t find any gaps in Berlin’s compact defence. Union fans only broke their silence with a risky but successful duel by Christopher Trimmel, who took the ball from Timo Werner in the penalty area with a lot of physical effort. Louder than the cheers for the Berlin captain were only the insults for the Leipzig striker.
When the capo of the Union Ultras on the forest side was already preparing the audience for the end of the silence, Julian Ryerson almost beat him to it. After a cross from Andras Schäfer and a lay-off by Janik Haberer, the Norwegian shot to the bottom left corner, but Mohamed Simakan cleared just before the line.
A few seconds later, however, the fans really got going – and shortly afterwards experienced a moment of shock. Benjamin Henrichs played a ball behind the Berlin defense and the fast Werner overcame goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow with a clever lob. However, the post saved Union from going behind.
Apart from this big chance, the hosts were defensive but very compact, cleverly moved and set more and more of their own accents as the playing time increased. Coach Urs Fischer had said beforehand that it wouldn’t be enough just to wall himself in in his own penalty area – and his team increasingly took that to heart. Both teams formally played in the same 3-5-2 formation, but Leipzig interpreted it much more offensively. So there were large gaps in the Saxons after ball losses, into which the Union repeatedly stabbed.
Andras Schäfer, in particular, showed with his dynamism and a good feeling for free space that he might be able to grow into the role of Grischa Prömel, who had moved to Hoffenheim, sooner rather than later. Again and again he quickly bridged the midfield and used the excellent Berlin strike duo.
Siebatcheu narrowly missed a cross from Becker, but a little later that combination made it 1-0. Union switched quickly against unsorted Leipzig, Becker got through just before the penalty area and the newcomer from Switzerland pushed the ball ice-cold past Rasenballsport’s substitute goalkeeper Janis Blaswich.
In the minutes that followed, however, he showed that Siebatcheu is not just a forward in the penalty area. First he blocked a Leipzig shot in his own six-yard box, then he passed the ball straight to Becker on a counterattack – and what the Suriname international did then was further impressive proof of his playful progress. His opponent speculated on a shot with his strong right foot, but Becker hooked inside and shot in unstoppable with his left.
If the Berliners were to show a live table on the scoreboard, the fans would have seen their team at the top for the first time at that moment. The audience was still delighted and the team continued to press the now quite shocked Leipzigers. However, Becker missed the 3-0 with a shot from an acute angle shortly before the break whistle.
Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco reacted to his team’s poor performance at half-time and brought on Marcel Halstenberg for Josko Gvardiol. Lawn ball sport now had a lot of ball possession and constricted Union in the penalty area, but this visual superiority was not enough for clear shots.
The first chance of the second half again belonged to the strong Siebatcheu, but his direct acceptance flew past the Leipzig goal to the left. A little later, Fischer took the US international off the field and brought in a fresh striker in Kevin Behrens. The other changes brought little relief. Leipzig pressed, Union fought, but the goal was in the air. Julian Ryerson was able to clear the line once in dire need, but it happened in the 83rd minute. Willi Orban hit his head and now it was trembling for the Berliners. The league lead was gone with the 2:1, but that didn’t bother anyone when referee Deniz Aytekin finally blew the whistle.