Germany: Bundesliga
FT
0 - 2
(0 - 1)
Hertha BSC
Union Berlin
D. Doekhi (44), P. Seguin (67)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Union take derby prize while Freiburg, Gladbach, Bremen, and Mainz all collect first wins of 2023

The 2022/23 German Bundesliga's "Rück-runde" is officially in full swing!

The table gets quite interesting now as four of he clubs competing in the five simultaneous kickoffs have gotten their campaigns back on track with their first wins of the new calendar year. 

The Berliner "Stadtderby" went to 1. FC Union Berlin, who now have achieved maximum points in their three games back from the World Cup break.

Meanwhile, Freiburg, Bremen, Gladbach, and Mainz also collected their first three-point-hauls of 2023.  
Urs Fischer's 1. FC Union Berlin continued their perfect start to the new calendar year and ensured their fourth straight "Stadtderby" win with a 2-0 victory over crosstown rivals Hertha BSC at the Olympiastadion. The third win in as many games ensures that die Eisernen will conclude the 2022/23 Bundesliga's 18th matchday in second place.

Union trainer Fischer made three changes to the XI that defeated Bremen on Wednesday. Captain Christopher Trimmel and new signing Jerome Roussillon replaced Josip Juranovic and Niko Gießelmann at the wingback positions. Japanese buttressing attacker Genki Haraguchi - linked with a transfer to Stuttgart - took a seat in favor of Hungarian international Andras Schäfer. Fischer relied upon his regular 3-5-2.

Hertha's Schwarz had to do without defenders Jonjoe Kenny and Agustin Rogel. Peter Pekarik filled in for Kenny at right-back whilst Filip Uremovic took Rogel's place in central defense. Additionally, captain Marvin Plattenhardt started over Maximilian Mittelstädt at left back and Jean-Paul Boëtius took Ivan Sunjic's place. French veteran Lucas Tousqaart ran a 4-1-4-1 from the pincer position ahead of the line.

An exceptionally intense midfield duel meant that neither side were able to manage any legitimate scoring chances in the opening quarter-of-an-hour. The Charlottenburg hosts certainly stood up to their favored guests from crosstown Köpenick. Union didn't even find a way through until Roussillon played Sheraldo Becker through a couple of times just prior to the 20-minute-mark.

Hertha were able to slowly establish themselves in possession and made a few incursions into their opponents' half around the half-hour-mark. At long last, Schwarz's crew got a chance off in the 34th. Suat Serdar flashed over following some nice combination work from Boëtius and Dodi Lukebakio. All the hard work nevertheless came to nothing as Union snatched the lead shortly before the break.

Union had been knocking on the door as half-time approached. The 1-0 came off a corner in the 44th. Christopher Trimmel serviced FCU defender Danilho Doekhi, just as he did twice last week. The Köpenickers have now scored three goals off of corners since Bundesliga play resumed last week. Dutchman Doekhi, incredibly, has three goals to his credit in the three matches back.

The tally took some air out of Hertha's game.  Although Hertha remained ever present in the midfield duels after the break, Union steadily built up forward momentum with balanced attacks that seemed to augur a second goal. Rani Khedira sparked a quick counter in the 67th. No one in pinstripes could keep up with Sheraldo Becker on the left. Substitute Paul Seguin eventually finished off Becker's cross for the 2-0.

Hertha nearly pulled a goal back shortly thereafter. FCU keeper Frederik Rønnow had to be on point to clear a Tousart header off the line after a nice sharp corner service from Plattenhardt in the 74th. Rønnow again made a fine save on a deflection Marco Richter effort in the 83rd. There would be no further chances for the hosts as the guests brought the match to an orderly conclusion.

Union have now beaten Hertha four straight times in the league. Counting last January's Pokal victory, the Köpenickers have now beaten the Charlottenburgers five times on-the-trot.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, SV Werder Bremen were able to secure their first win of 2023 with an upset victory over visiting VfL Wolfsburg. German national team striker Niclas Füllkrug bagged a brace for the resurgent Hanseaten, who grabbed a much-needed three points just one week from their embarrassing 1-7 defeat to Köln.

German national team winger/fullback Jonas Hofmann also notched a brace for himself en route to his club's first victory of the new year. Borussia Mönchengladbach were able to answer their coach's call and dismantle TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 4-1 in Sinsheim. Gladbach shook off two recent defeats and finally got their attack rolling.

There was a mega seven-goal-shootout over in the capital of the Rhineland Palatinate. Bo Svensson's FSV Mainz 05 grabbed their first win of the extended Rück-runde and just their second home victory of the season with a 5-2 thumping of Bochum. Thomas Letsch's VfL showed great heart in coming back from a 0-4 deficit, but were no match for a Karim Onisiwo hat trick.

Down south at the Europa Park Stadion in Breisgau, SC Freiburg were also able to attain their first victory of the new calendar year. Christian Streich's Schwarzwälder, having routed Augsburg in the reverse fixture, delivered a very convincing 3-1 victory over the Fuggerstädter. Lucas Höler, Michael Gregoritsch, and Philipp Liehart scored for the dominant BaWü winners.

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