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Union Berlin
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D. Doekhi (45)

Union pull Wolfsburg into relegation fray with massive home victory

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

The last of Saturday's 15:30 kickoffs to conclude produced a massive result highly relevant to the 2023/24 German Bundesliga relegation race. 

Nenad Bjelica's 1. FC Union Berlin have pulled Wolfsburg into the relegation fray with a huge home win.
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Photo: 1. FC Union Berlin
In a match subject to a prolonged delay due to continuing fan protests at Berlin's Stadion An der Alten Försterei, relegation threatened 1. FC Union Berlin spoiled the return of VfL Wolfsburg striker Kevin Behrens back to his old stomping ground. Nenad Bjelica's Eisern Union snatched all three points from Niko Kovac's German Wolves in the last of the Saturday 15:30s to conclude. The massive win for East Berlin's "Irons" pulls them to within two points of Wolfsburg in the table. Union are out of the relegation zone on 21 points. Wolfsburg lie in 12th place on 23.


FCU trainer Nenad Bjelica commemorated his return from a three-match-ban by making three changes to the squad that drew Mainz midweek. Diogo Leite and Alex Kral replaced suspended actors Janik Haberer and Kevin Vogt. In addition, Lucas Tousart took the place of Aïssa Laïdouni. VfL trainer Kovac kept his basic tactical constellation in place, yet made four personnel changes to the side that drew Hoffenheim 2-2 last Sunday. Back-up keeper Pavao Pervan replaced the injured Koen Casteels. Maxence Lacroix, Mattias Svanberg, and Lovro Majer took the place of Sebastiaan Bornauw, Aster Vranckx, and Vaclav Cerny.

Wolfsburg's hero from last week Majer picked up right where he left off, placing the hosting Berliners under early pressure with some quality moves. Majer set up WOB striker Jonas Wind on the games first real chance in the 6th. Two minutes later, FCU striker Kevin Volland shot wide at the other end. Matters calmed down considerably after the early chances and the match settled into a midfield stalemate for much of the rest of the half. As they did in Mainz on Wednesday, the Union ultras began peppering the pitch with tennis balls around the 25th.

After repeated warnings that the match was about to be abandoned, the officiating crew and stadium staff managed to clear the pitch and resume play. A series of interruptions led to nearly 30 minutes of first-half stoppage time. FCU defender Danilo Doekhi notched the 1-0 off a Volland corner at 45+21. Volland and Doekhi continued to remain eager for more after the restart, creating chances for their teammates and narrowly missing themselves.

It was nevertheless Wolfsburg's Majer who came closest to scoring in a second-half that often lacked any rhythm from either side. Majer missed chances at an equalizer in the 54th and 64th. Wind - set up by substitute Amine Sarr in the 84th - forced a strong parry out of FCU keeper Frederik Rønnow. The Danish net minder, who also made strong saves on Majer, ensured that all three points belonged to the Köpenicker.



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