Union Berlin continue their unbeaten Bundesliga run as they are made to work for the 3 points against a sturdy 10-man Köln. Luca Killian's dubious red card gave the hosts a mountain to climb in the closing stages on a day where little clicked up front for Effzeh.
|Sheraldo Becker's pass resulted in the Timo Hubers own goal.||Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin|
It was the visitors who made a lightening start to proceedings inside 4 minutes – A truly freak own goal at that from the unfortunate Timo Hübers. Jordan Siebatcheu, who returned to Union’s starting line-up today after muscular injuries, slipped a ball into Becker, who’s attempted pass was turned goalward by Hübers, leaving Schwäbe was rooted to the spot. Moments later Union’s afternoon appeared to get better when they were awarded a penalty for a harsh Luca Killian handball. Perhaps justice was served when Siebatcheu’s atrociously struck spot kick was easily smothered by Schwäbe to keep it at 0-1.
Approaching the 15-minute mark Union’s red-hot striker Sheraldo Becker thought he had bagged his 6th goal of the season, however some consultation with VAR ruled the Surinamese sharpshooter offside. Köln seemed to be struggling to keep Union at bay defensively – Becker stung the legs of Schwäbe, while Siebatcheu narrowly headed wide before the half hour mark. Köln’s first significant chance came to them in the 29th minute when Linton Maina worked former Kaiserslautern goalkeeper Lennart Grill. Steffen Baumgart’s side were beginning to settle as Pedersen also went close from a Kainz corner, but it remained 0-1 to Die Eisernen at the interval.
Köln almost made a dream start to the second half when Maina was put through on goal. The young German who had done ever so well to hold off Diogo Leite, was foiled by Grill again who was on hand to keep the Berlin club in front. Union captain Christopher Trimmel hit the crossbar with a cross-come-shot effort just before the hour mark – a well worked free kick with Becker gave him space to find a teammate in the box, but his slightly overhit delivery clipped the bar which spared Schwäbe’s blushes. The game was beginning to get a bit ragged with multiple fouls committed by either side. Köln’s Ljubicic and Schindler made their way onto the pitch, as too did Pantovic who replaced Haberer in Union’s midfield.
As the aforementioned Pantović blasted over with just over 15 minutes remaining, Urs Fischer freshened up his forward line with Siebatcheu and Becker making way for the hard-working duo of Behrens and Michel. Effzeh were dealt a blow in the 80th minute when they were reduced to 10 men. Having already received a dubious yellow card for the earlier penalty, Luca Killian was given his marching orders when he felled the breaking András Schäfer. Köln did all they could to fashion an equalizer, but Union Berlin were savvy in their approach as they comfortably closed out the final minutes.