Germany: Bundesliga
4 - 2
(3 - 0)
Union Berlin
K. Behrens (5), S. Becker (36), S. Becker (38), A. Laïdouni (80)
M. Gulde (56), V. Grifo (70)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Union take huge points in top-four race, Bayern on track, Bochum out of the relegation zone

There were goals galore in the latest set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs. FC Bayern München - now guaranteed to finish the weekend in first place - provided the highest scoreline with a 6-0 over Schalke. Bochum were able to edge Augsburg 3-2 in a five-goal thriller. Frankfurt and Wolfsburg were also able to best Mainz and Hoffenheim, respectively, in three-goal affairs. 

The match with the most significant ramifications for the Champions' League race took place at Köpenick's Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Urs Fischer's capital city side took out visiting SC Freiburg 4-2 to move up to third place in the Bundesliga table. RB Leipzig still have a chance to overtake die Eisernen tomorrow, but Union will definitely finish the weekend in the top-four.
In a match with massive ramifications for the 2023/23 Champions' League race, FC Union Berlin were able to move up to third place in the Bundesliga table with a rollicking 4-2 victory over fellow UCL aspirants Freiburg at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. The huge win for Urs Fischer's Berliners not only keeps Christian Streich's Breisgauer in fifth place, but also widens the goal-differential between the two sides. At the beginning of the day, the two teams were tied on points and separated by four goals. Union now have three points more and a +8 goal differential.

FCU trainer Fischer rotated in three new players from last week's loss away at Augsburg. Paul Jaeckel, Aïssa Laïdouni, and Josip Juranovic all made way for Diogo Leite, Christopher Trimmel, and Andras Schäfer. SCF gaffer Streich also made three changes to the XI that lost to Leipzig last weekend. Maximilian Eggestein, Michael Gregoritsch, and Noah Weißhaupt were replaced by Ritsu Doan, Kiliann Sildillia, and Yannik Keitel.

As expected, the match began with fiercely contested midfield duels. To the surprise of most observers, the ordinarily offensively tepid Union were nevertheless able to snatch an early lead. The home side went up 1-0 in the 5th after Kevin Behrens headed a long ball over to striking partner Sheraldo Becker. Fighting off Manuel Gulde, Becker returned the ball to Behrens. A slip from Sildillia helped Behrens slot home the opening goal.

The confident hosts kept reaching Becker with long balls on both flanks. It seemed only a matter of time before a second goal would come. Freiburg were pinned back in their own half for much of the time following the early stunner. After a series of threatening attacking plays involving Becker, the Dutch Suriname striker's 2-0 came in the 36th.

Becker himself initiated the offensive sequence, once again artistically beating Gulde on the right. A nifty give-and-go with Robin Knoche ensued. Becker received the ball once again in the penalty area on the half right and cooly finished between SCF keeper Mark Flekken's legs. Within two minutes, Becker had completed a scorer's brace.

Freiburg were guilty of a lapse in concentration following a set-piece in the 38th. Knoche was again able to register an assist off Roland Sallai's failed clearance. Becker pounded home the 3-0 with an emphatic finish from the half-right that bulged the back of the net. Union possessed an entirely deserved half-time lead.

Streich opted to bring Weißhaupt on in place of Christian Günter at the half. Gregoritsch and Kennth Schmidt (for Keitel and Sildillia) followed soon afterwards on a double sub in the 53rd. The switches certainly livened up the game of the guests. The first pull-back goal still came off a dead-ball. Gulde partially atoned for his defensive mistakes by polishing off a Vincenzo Grifo corner in the 56th.

Streichs Breisgauer would narrow the deficit further from the spot in the 70th. FCU defender Danilho Doekhi caught Sallai in the penalty area. Grifo accomplished the 2-3 with a "Panenka" finish from the spot. With the wind at their backs, the BaWü guests pushed hard for an equalizer. As a result, however, Union were able to score the 4-2 off a counter in the 80th.

Mere seconds after Sallai saw a close-range effort blocked by Knoche, the subbed on Jordan Pefok put Becker through up the flanks with a great ball. Jordan's fellow sub Aïssa Laïdouni joined Becker on the trail and the undisputed man-of-the-match only had to service the Tunisian with a simple square. Laïdouni's first Bundesliga goal for his new club proved an easy finish.

Nothing much else transpired after the match was decided.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, the big "relegation race fixture" over at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in Westphalia ended with hosts Bochum securing a vitally important 3-2 win over Augsburg. Thomas Letsch's VfL pull themselves out of the relegation zone on 31 points thanks to a gritty performance that did feature some luck, but could be described as mostly dominant.

Bochum's relegation rivals Schalke remain in the relegation play-off place after league leaders FC Bayern München made short work of them. Serge Gnabry bagged a brace in a rollocking 6-0 victory for the Bavarians at the Allianz. By mimicking Borussia Dortmund's scoreline against Wolfsburg last week, Bayern have ensured that they will finish the weekend in first place.

Wolfsburg themselves were able to shake off their recent blanking at defeat Hoffenheim 2-1 at home. The German Wolves maintained control for most of the match, only conceding a late own goal against Pellegrino Matarazzo's Kraichgauer. Wolfsburg move up to sixth place with the win. Leverkusen have a chance to overtake their fellow company club for the second Europa League place tomorrow.

In a match between two teams on the fringes of Europe, Eintracht Frankfurt were able to defeat Bo Svensson's FSV Mainz 05 3-0 at home with suspended trainer Oliver Glasner watching from the upper level suite. The match featured a cracking goal from SGE wingback Aurelio Buta. Frankfurt move ahead of Mainz - whose European ambitions unfortunately seem to be over - to take over eighth place in the table.

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