Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 1
(0 - 1)
Union Berlin
Greuther Fürth
S. Michel (72)
B. Hrgota (33)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Michel salvages a point for Union in tough tangle with Fürth

Berlin's Köpenick quarter side suffered a setback in their quest for Europe on Friday night, taking only a point off guests SpVgg Greuther Fürth. 

Die Eisernen remain in 6th place on 51 points after opening the 2021/22 German Bundesliga's 32nd matchday with a 1-1 draw. 

Köln can overtake them from 7th with a win tomorrow, while SC Freiburg can open up a five-point gap in ahead of them with their own victory.
Union Berlin seemed to be the favorites when playing hosts to relegated side SpVgg Greuther Fürth on Friday night at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Usually energetic under the Friday night floodlights at home, die Eisernen looked fairly listless and were somewhat lucky to dig out a 1-1 draw.

Just as was the case last weekend, SpVgg Greuther Fürth trainer Stefan Leitl found himself without a number of injured players. There was only room for one personnel change in the gaffer's starting XI. Germany U21 striker Jamie Leweling returned the lineup immediately following his COVID infection, replacing the highly ineffective Julian Green. The change enabled Leitl to deploy a three-striker-set, with Jessic Ngankam serving alongside Leweling and captain Branimir Hrgota.

Union head-coach Urs Fischer, having to deal with a couple absences of his own, brought in Genki Haraguchi to replace the COVID-stricken Andras Schäfer. Die Eisernen lined up in their customary 3-5-2 "double stack". Haraguchi and Grischa Prömel worked behind Taiwo Awoniyi and Sheraldo Becker. In front of a packed house, the FCU hoped to officially break their previous record for points picked up in a Bundesliga season.

The Bavarian guests were nevertheless the much more spritely side in the opening minutes. The capital city side had noticeable difficulty getting their attack started. Fürth, meanwhile, took advantage of a weak Berliner press to make several incursions into their opponent's penalty area. Hrgota missed an excellent opportunity in the 10th.

Seven minutes later, after Ngankam missed from close range, SpVgg midfielder Tobias Raschl rattled a rifled range effort off the crossbar. Hrgota put another effort wide after dancing past Haraguchi in the 20th. Only poor chance conversion stood between the Kleeblätter and a well deserved lead. Leitl's men were by far the better team.

A bit of improvisation was needed from Fischer in the 24th when defender Dominique Heintz couldn't continue. The Union trainer sent on Julian Ryerson, ordinarily deployed at wingback, to replace Heintz on a like-for-like in the back-three. This compounded Union's pressing problems. Fürth continued to act with impunity in possession.

Union eventually got a little better adjusted, but the Fürth captain finally gave his side the lead in the 33rd. Immediately seizing on a failed clearance from Robin Knoche, Hrgota blasted a laser from the right side of the box. Union keeper Frederik Rønnow was left frozen as the smashed drive bulged the back of the net.

Dropping back in protection of their lead, Fürth seemed content to conserve energy for the second 45 thereafter. Union themselves didn't appear very motivated; mostly anxious to get back in the dressing room. Fischer brought on striker Andreas Voglsammer for Haraguchi at the break. Union came out for the second half with their own three-striker-set.

A mistake from Voglsammer actually ended up gifting Ngankam a chance in the 52nd and Fürth rode the momentum to confidently apply more pressure. Ngankam continued to make a nuisance of himself. The Union defensive ranks began to look very disorganized. Eventually, in the 66th, the hosts were able to successfully play out of the back. Awoniyi registered a shot on target after some nice interplay.

The equalizer came courtesy of last week's hero, Sven Michel. Once again, the attacker procured to replace Max Kruse made an impact within seconds of being subbed on. Andreas Linde made his second highly embarrassing goalkeeping error in as many rounds. Linde made a dangerous pass out to defender Nick Viergever, who in turn made a poor decision to try and dribble past Michel.

The former SC Paderborn front man took the ball and slotted home into the empty net. After the 1-1 in the 72nd, both sides seemed worn out. Stoppages also impeded the flow of the match. Voglsammer missed easily the best chance to deliver all three points for his side with a wide shot in the 87th.

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