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Union Berlin
M. Mehlem (24)
R. Gosens (4), B. Aaronson (21), R. Gosens (34), K. Behrens (39), D. Doekhi (65)

15:30 Kickoffs:
Gosens brace leads Union past Darmstadt, Philipp sinks Bremen, Revierderby ends in draw

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

It was once again an enthralling set of 15:30 kickoffs on the world's best footballing beat!

Germany's Köpenick capital city side stand a decent chance of maintaining first place in the table through Sunday after a big win over Darmstadt. Wolfsburg are right behind Union Berlin in second place after securing their own win over Köln behind Jonas Winds' second brace of the season. 

There was late drama in both Heidenheim and Freiburg with matches that furnished last-minute surprises. Pellegrino Matarazzo's TSG achieved a remarkable late comeback win over Frank Schmidt's FCH. In Breisgau Maximilian Philipp sunk the club he played for last season with a late goal.

Dortmund and Bochum also furnished an eminently entertaining version of their Revierderby. Goals from both sides on respective sides of the half meant the match finished in a 1-1 draw. 
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Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin
Germany's surprise new Champions' League representatives have shot up to the top of the Bundesliga table after securing their second 4-1 victory in as many match-days in the young 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign. Urs Fischer's "Eiseren Union" traveled south to Darmstadt and scored three shorthanded goals against Torsten Lieberknecht's newly promoted side. German national team left-back Robin Gosens bagged a brace in his Bundesliga debut.

Union trainer Fischer made two changes to the XI that opened the season so impressively against Mainz. In typical "Urs Fischer style", the outside wingbacks were rotated. The newly acquired Gosens and Josip Juranovic replaced Jerome Roussillon and captain Christopher Trimmel. Central defender Danilho Doekhi inherited the armband from the benched skipper. Gosens - at the age of 29 - was finally able to celebrate his starting Bundesliga debut in his native country.

Darmstadt trainer Lieberknecht reacted to the narrow defeat against Frankfurt last week with four changes to his previous XI. New acquisitions Luca Pfeiffer and Bartol Franjic took the place of Fraser Hornby and Oscar Vilhelmsson. Two enforced changes saw Clemens Riedel and Braydon Manu took the place of the unavailable Christoph Zimmermann (illness) and Emir Karic (knee problems). The formation shifted from a 3-4-3 to a very protective 5-4-1 off the ball that packed the midfield.

The Köpenickers started the match just as explosively as they did last week. This time the opening goal only took four minutes. Gosens took advantage of a poor clearance and rattled off a scintillating solo run before powering home a powerful finish from 18 meters out; an absolute dream goal from the Bundesliga debutant. Things nevertheless began to cool off quickly for die Eisernen. Shortly after Gosens' goal, FCU midfielder Brenden Aaronson was booked for kicking a ball away out of frustration following a refereeing decision.

The initial yellow card awarded to Aaronson seemed a bit harsh, but such a specific action is prohibited by the DFB rule book. The incident would come back to haunt the Leeds loanee a short while later. Match official Patrick Ittrich had little choice but to award Aaronson a second yellow after a foul against Fabian Nürnberger in the 21st. The New Jersey native was sent off and Union were shorthanded. Within a few minutes, the Hessen hosts were able to capitalize on the man advantage and equalize.

Marvin Mehlem finished off a cheeky heel extension from Pfeiffer on the 1-1 in the 24th. The momentum certainly swung the SV's way over the next phase of the match, but it would be the guests that scored next. Poor marking on Gosens off a Juranovic free-kick in the 34th enabled Gosens to bag a brace. Shortly after that, Gosens would record an assist on the 3-1. The man-of-the-afternoon picked up a poor clearance off a corner in the 39th. Gosens serviced striker Kevin Behrens, who sensationally scored his fourth headed goal of the young season.

Lieberknecht reacted to the deficit with two changes at the half. It was nevertheless Union who came closer to scoring after the break, with a deflected Diogo Leite effort hitting the post seconds after the restart. Darmstadt's best chance to pull a goal back arrived shortly after the hour-mark. Union keeper Frederik Rønnow preserved the scoreline and continued his monstrous start to the season with a massive save on Manu in the 61st. Four minutes after that, Doekhi sealed the result with a headed finish off a Juranovic corner for the 4-1.

Matters settled down significantly after the fourth goal. Doekhi required an extended treatment break after finding the back of the net. Union had already lost two players - David Datro Fofana and his replacement Sheraldo Becker - to injury over the course of the game. Die Eisernen laid off and Pfeiffer encountered some bad luck in his quest to pull a goal back. The match finished with the scoreline intact. Fischer made certain to give Gosens a chance to earn a standing ovation from the fans with a late subbing off.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, 1. FC Heidenheim appeared on course secured their historic first ever win in the German top flight in front of their hometown fans. Frank Schmidt's newly promoted Badeners carried a 2-0 lead against their BaWü neighbors TSG 1899 Hoffenheim into the 77th minute. Pellegrino Matarazzo's Kraichgauer managed a comeback via goals from Maximilian Beier, Pavel Kaderabek, and Andrej Kramaric on a late (double take) penalty to pull out a 3-2 victory.

FC Köln too appeared to be on track to pull off a sensational upset. Luca Waldschmidt - currently on loan from VfL Wolfsburg - scored the opening goal against his parent club in the cathedral city. Visiting Wolfsburg were nonetheless quick to answer. Danish striker Jonas Wind scored his second brace in as many weeks to help Niko Kovac's Wolves secure a 2-1 win.

A wild finish at SC Freiburg's Europa Park Stadion saw Maximilian Philipp - who just joined Freiburg on loan from Wolfsburg this week - score a dramatic late winner to help Breisgau beat Bremen 1-0 at home. Philipp played on loan for Bremen last season. Freiburg, Wolfsburg, and Union now occupy the top three places in the Bundesliga table with their undefeated starts to the season.

In the highly anticipated "Revierderby", VfL Bochum put in a spirited performance against heavily favored neighbors Borussia Dortmund. The 1848 Revierklub even thoroughly dominated the visiting BVB during the opening 45 and took a 1-0 lead into the tunnel. Just as was the case last week, however, Donyell Malen was able to net a goal in the second half. The two rivals shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

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