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Europe: Europa League
FT
0 - 1
(0 - 0)
Malmö FF
Union Berlin
A. Schafer (45), S. Becker (68)

Shorthanded Union emerge triumphant against Malmö after flare delay

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

In a match the seas interrupted for 23 minutes because of flares thrown onto the pitch from supporters of both sides, shorthanded 1. FC Union Berlin were able to best Aga Hareide's Malmö FF 1-0.
Sheraldo Becker.
Sheraldo Becker.
Union Berlin have the first win of their historic first-ever Europa League campaign. Three points obtained in Malmö, Sweden give Urs Fischer's Eisernen an outside chance of making the UEL knockouts with half of the group stage completed. The German guests pulled out a victory despite being reduced to ten-men during the second-half and kept their composure after flares thrown onto the pitch forced a 23-minute delay.


Union trainer Fischer, cleared to return to the sidelines after returning two negative COVID tests, made four changes to the XI that lost at Frankfurt over the weekend. Timo Baumgartl (COVID, not registered for the Europa League) was replaced by the controversially benched Robin Knoche. Danilho Doekhi, Andras Schäfer, and Julian Ryerson also took the places of Paul Jaeckel, Morten Thorsby, and Niko Gießelmann.

Union weren't especially adventurous in their movement forward with the ball. Fischer's men actually sat quite deep in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, waiting for chances on the counter that never came. It took 16 minutes for the first opportunity from either side to emerge. Malmö's Joseph Ceesay forced Union keeper Frederick Rønnow into a close range save. Union wouldn't muster muster up a response until Sheraldo Becker tested keeper Ismael Diawara in the 27th.

There were plenty of instances during the first half in which the Swedish hosts were accorded plenty of space. Former Norway and Denmark national team trainer Age Hareide's men were nevertheless not able to make much use out of it. Union eventually got their chances on the counter, but Becker, Jordan and Janik Haberer weren't able to turn their own chances into the back of the net. Just before it was time to head into the locker room goalless, the German guests were reduced to ten men.

Andras Schäfer hauled down Malmö captain Anders Christensen when the Dane had a clear path toward goal in the 45th. Match official Halil Umut Meler didn't hesitate in sending the Hungarian off on a straight red. Union would have to play the entire second half shorthanded. Despite this, the Köpenickers would generate the better chances after the restart. Jordan (50th) and Knoche (52nd) came close to the game's opening goal.

Pyro flares were thrown onto the pitch in the 57th. Referee Umut Melo immediately sent both teams into the dressing room. There was a 23-minute-long delay whilst stadium officials reviewed the stadium's internal video tape. Eventually, broadcast cameras caught security guards escorting specific fans out of both spectator blocks. The match resumed with a stern warning that any further pyro violations would result in the abandonment of the fixture.


Some nine minutes after play resumed, Becker supplied the shocker. Malmö were having great difficulty stringing coherent attacks together. Twice Hareide's men were caught offside. Knoche unlocked Becker with a long vertical in the 68th and the Suriname international was off to the races. The Bundesliga's second-leading goalscorer jetted to a worthwhile space in front of Diawara and was ice cold with his final finish. Union had the lead.

Shortly after Becker's goal, Diawara denied Haberer the 2-0 in the 72nd. In all candor, the Swedish hosts were able to manage next-to-nothing down the stretch. Becker, Haberer, and Diogo Leite all got looks in as Union bravely pressed forward as if they were not shorthanded. Even with six addition minutes tacked on at the end of normal time, Malmö never appeared to come close to an equalizer.


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