Leaving Sweden victorious last week having won the game with ten men and a mere 28% possession, Union welcomed Malmö to the Alte Försterei tonight. The Köpenick side would have known this was a crucial game prior to kick-off. Given the strength of Group D, a win was necessary to keep their chances of progression to the Europa League knockout round alive. Fortunately, Urs Fischer’s troops were too much for their Swedish opposition as Union ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a late Knoche goal.
|Morten Thorsby.||Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin|
For all of Union’s dominance in possession, the final ball or requisite finish was missing. Multiple deliveries from Trimmel and Haraguchi rained in around the penalty area but came to nothing. Another Becker strike sailed over the crossbar, while Leite’s late snapshot nestled Diawara’s assured grasp as it remained deadlocked at the break.
‘Die Eisernen’ thought they had made the breakthrough on 57 minutes, but celebrations were short lived. A defence splitting pass from Khedira allowed Becker in to finish across Diawara into the bottom right corner. Unfortunately, the offside flag was raised as the Burkina Faso forward made his goal bound run too early. Just after the hour mark and Union went a step closer hitting the post. Khedira’s scuffed effort deceived Diawara only to clip the upright as the Alte Försterei atmosphere increased.
As the clock hit 70 minutes the Köpenick side thought they had won a penalty when substitute Thorsby went to ground under pressure. On second viewing referee Stavrev cruelly reversed his decision, booking the Norwegian for a suspected foul instead. Substitute Kevin Behrens made an instant impact when he won a spot kick for definite this time. Lomotey the guilty party as he hauled down the German frontman. Knoche made no mistake from 12 yards as he dispatched with power and precision as the Union faithful erupted. Things went from bad to worse for Malmö – Lomotey who gave away the penalty received a straight red for a lunge on Becker. That was enough for Union who can finish no lower than 3rd in Group D, sitting a point behind second placed Braga with 2 games to play.