Taiwo Awoniyi thoroughly enjoyed the moment. A week ago he was unlucky in the defeat in Wolfsburg with an own goal and now the Berliners cheered him euphorically among the 16,500 spectators at the An der Alten Försterei stadium. “Awoniyi, Awoniyi, Taiwo Awoniyi” echoed from the stands to the tune of KC and Sunshine Band’s 80s hit “Give it up,” and the Berlin striker smiled.
However, they only did so until the 90th minute. Because shortly before the end, 1.Union gave up the win against VfB Stuttgart. Again, Sasa Kalajdzic scored late against the Berliners. In the end it was Urs Fischer’s 150th match with Union 1: 1 (1: 0).
Due to the late draw, the Berliners missed the chance to stay top after their first goal of the season. They are still two points short of the much-cited 40-point mark. While the Union have had relatively little success away from home recently, the team went unbeaten at home for the third time in a row, but no one was happy about that on Saturday afternoon.
While VfB remained unchanged after an important 3-2 victory against Gladbach a week ago, this was not possible for Fischer. Four players tested positive for the corona virus during the week, including regular players Andreas Luthe and Genki Haraguchi. Frederik Rönnow and Kevin Möhwald played for them. Additionally, Paul Jaeckel started for Dominique Heintz, Christopher Trimmel for Julian Ryerson, and Niko Gießelmann for Bastian Oczipka.
Khedira narrowly missed his first goal
Under bright sunshine and against a backdrop rarely seen since the start of the pandemic, Union got off to a good start. Less than three minutes had passed when Rani Khedira narrowly missed his first goal for the Berliners. The former VfB pro clearly has his strengths defensively, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area wasn’t far behind.
Stuttgart tried again and again to use their speed advantages on the wings after winning the ball, but Union acted very focused and had a good grip in duels. VfB were unable to manage more than two foul kicks from set pieces by Hiroki Ito and Konstantinos Mavropanos in the first half.
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But the Berliners also struggled offensively after Khedira’s early chance. Stuttgart gave them the ball for long stretches and that is not exactly the Union’s favorite starting position, as is well known. But from the middle of the first half, the hosts slowly found holes in the VfB defence.
Grischa Prömel, in particular, caused a number of dangers with his advances from midfield. Gießelmann used his cross from the right to shoot from a tight angle, but Florian Müller had no problem with that. A little later, Prömel struck into the side of the net with a short corner kick and late in the first half, the midfielder was the starting point for Berlin’s first goal.
The defense of the Union was safe
From close range he shot the ball into Mavropanos’s slightly outstretched arm – the penalty kick was a reasonable decision, but rather annoying from Stuttgart’s point of view. Awoniyi succeeded penalty shootout specialist Max Kruse and confidently hit the right corner. Minutes earlier, the Nigerian striker had beaten Müller after a set-up by Sheraldo Becker, but he was clearly in an offside position.
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To be sure, the Berliners’ 1-0 lead at the break was fine given the chances. After the change of sides, Union initially withdrew a few meters and Stuttgart were finally trying to create something like pressure. But it was little more than an attempt. The Union defense was secure, substitute goalkeeper Rönnow had no chance to stand out and the Berliners continued to give the impression of being more dangerous.
After an hour, Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo had seen enough and brought new strength from the bench. This did not change the balance of power for the time being, nor did the substitutions of András Schäfer, Andreas Voglsammer and Sven Michel. Union had a great chance to make the preliminary decision after a cross from Becker, but Gießelmann didn’t hit the ball cleanly, and that was punished. With five minutes remaining, Kalajdzic struck just outside the post, but shortly after the Austrian did better after an excellent cross from Borna Sosa.