Taiwo Awoniyi's 17th Bundesliga goal for 1. FC Union Berlin shot the Köpenick club over 40-point mark for the season.
The Nigerian's strike after 49 minutes decided the match in Union's favour at home to 1. FC Köln in front of a sold-out Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow; Trimmel, Gießelmann, Baumgartl, Knoche, Jaeckel; Khedira, Prömel (Möhwald 88), Haraguchi (Ryerson 75); Awoniyi (Behrens 88), Becker (Voglsammer 72)
1. FC Köln: Schwäbe; Hübers (Schaub 83), Özcan, Ljubicic (Lemperle 67), Andersson, Kainz (Chabot 67), Uth (Horn 83), Hector, Kilian, Ehizibue (Thielmann 45), Skhiri
The Stadion An der Alten Försterei was full for just the second time this season - the first with an organsied support behind the team in 762 days. The home crowd were in great form from the offset including before the players came on to the pitch. That spurred the team on against an aggressive, high-pressing opponent. In the second minute, Awoniyi raced clear of the Köln central defenders but Marvin Schwäbe was off his line in no time to clear. Also enjoying a successful season away from relegation danger and in touch of European football, 1. FC Köln under Steffen Baumgart started in the way you'd imagine. A counterattack forced Paul Jaeckel to make a professional foul on Dejan Ljubicic and incur the first yellow card after seven minutes. For the most part, Union were the team able to turn a defensive action into attack the most effective. Niko Gießelmann scuffed a shot wide after 13 minutes while Awoniyi flicked the ball in behind for Grischa Prömel who shot wide. Frederik Rönnow was in to replace the injured Andreas Luthe and he was brought into action after 22 minutes. A cross from Kingsley Ehizibue was carefully flicked on by Marc Uth and the Danish keeper was forced to scramble across his line. Two minutes later, Sheraldo Becker and Awoniyi combined with a neat bit of play around the box before the Dutchman stung the palms of Schwäbe with a rasping shot from a tight angle. On 34 minutes, Rani Khedira came close, winning the ball on Köln's 18-yard-line but skewing his strike wide of the right-hand post. Despite Union's relative dominance in the forward areas, Rönnow came to Union's rescue on 38 minutes. Köln's set-piece threat was noticeable, and Timo Hübers punted the ball in behind for Jonas Hector who shot straight at the Union keeper from close range. The half ended punctually on 45 minutes but Union did their best to force the issue in the closing stages. Becker whipped in a sharp cross but Grischa Prömel tapped wide under pressure from goalkeeper and defence. Prömel tried again seconds later from Haraguchi's cross but he headed into Schwäbe's hands.
1. FC Köln made a change at the break with Jan Thielmann replacing Kingsley Ehizibue who picked up a first-half yellow card. Four minutes into play, Jonas Hector attempted a dangerous pass back to his own goalkeeper, Taiwo Awoniyi intercepted then slammed past the goalkeeper. The Union striker moves up to 17 goals in Germany's top division for Union - the club's record since promotion in 2019. In what was a scrappy game, with both teams giving 100% for every ball, one goal could decide the game. Timo Baumgartl popped up in attacking areas, heading wide on 62 minutes from Gießelmann's deep cross. After a strong, determined performance, Becker was given a rest on 70 minutes and Andreas Voglsammer took his place. A minute later, Haraguchi carved out a great situation for Prömel but the midfielder fired over the crossbar. That was the Japanese midfielder's last contribution as he ended the game on 75 minutes with Julian Ryerson taking his place. Voglsammer struck over from a free-kick as the game entered a nervous final 10 minutes. Despite Baumgart making all five of his allocated substitutions, Union showed immense determination and focus to see out four minutes of stoppage time. It was a significant achievement for Urs Fischer's team who overstep the 40 point mark in the Bundesliga, as the team looks to achieve its target of another season in Germany's top league.