End of the series of defeats: Union wins a draw in Naples
The knockout round is no longer achievable for Union Berlin in the Champions League. But the team gets a point in Naples. It could be the turning point of the Union season so far.
Completely exhausted, the professionals clapped each other 1. FC Union Berlin, after weeks full of disappointments, joy and new determination returned to the sweaty faces.
With good football craftsmanship and a lot of fight in the venerable Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, the Iron Men stopped their series of defeats after twelve competitive defeats in a row.
“It feels very good”
“It feels very good,” said captain Christopher Trimmel on the DAZN streaming service after the 1-1 (0-1) draw in the SSC Naples “cauldron”. The Austrian admitted that the longer such a negative series lasted, the more self-confidence would dwindle. The draw could now “hopefully provide energy for the next few weeks”. Midfielder Rani Khedira emphasized that they deserved to take the point.
With the draw against the Italian champions, coach Urs Fischer’s team even had a chance of overwintering in international business – but at most in the Europa League. After Matteo Politano took the lead in the 39th minute, the recently suspended David Fofana equalized in the 52nd minute on Wednesday evening.
After being eliminated from the DFB Cup and slipping into the relegation battle of the Bundesliga, the Köpenickers are now hoping for the turning point of a so far messed up season. Next Sunday, leaders Bayer Leverkusen will face the right test in the championship. In the master class, the crucial games for Union will be at SC Braga and at home against Real Madrid.
First chance for Union
In Naples, coach Urs Fischer predicted before kick-off: “The first 10 or 15 minutes are very important.” And so the 57-year-old Swiss’s team acted with sober craftsmanship in the stadium where namesake Diego Armando Maradona once enchanted fans with his football art. In any case, the Iron Men survived the opening quarter of an hour and even had the first chance of the game through Sheraldo Becker (4th).
Firecrackers caused irritation during this phase. According to police reports, there were riots by Union supporters and fellow Borussia Mönchengladbach fans in the evening and night before the game. According to the information, eleven Germans were arrested. The security measures for the game were then increased again. During the game, firecrackers were thrown by Napoli fans into the block of around 2,500 Union fans who had arrived.
On the pitch, in front of 47,108 spectators, the Berlin professionals continued to try not to let anything unsettle them. But things became more difficult and the moments of relief due to the simple style of play were rather rare.
Goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow parried a shot from Piotr Zielinski from close range, then the post saved Union from falling behind when the advanced Brazilian Natan got a header. After almost half an hour, the ball fidgeted in the net of the Berlin goal. But André Zambo Anguissa’s goal was disallowed via video evidence; preparer and captain Giovanni di Lorenzo had previously brazenly braced himself for a header.
Behind before the break
But before the break the score was 0-1. Once again the Union defense didn’t seem secure, Juranovic deflected a cross from the side so that the ball hit Politano in the chest and from there into the goal. And as unfortunate as the goal was, Juranovic was just as unlucky when he hit the post with a free kick in stoppage time in the first half.
Even after the break, there was initially little change in ball possession. Only one thing was suddenly different: Union cheered. After an escape from his own penalty area, it went to Becker, whose shot was parried by SSC keeper Alex Meret with one hand – but in such a way that the ball landed at Fofana. The attacker, who was recently suspended after refusing a handshake, didn’t hesitate for long and scored the equalizer. It was Union’s first goal in over a month.
And suddenly Union looked like the team from the better days. Substitute Christopher Trimmel tested Meret with a long-range shot. But nothing more was possible, Rönnow saved the draw in the end.