Steven Skrzybski’s sixth goal of the campaign wasn’t enough to secure three points in the final league match of 2017 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
Despite leading with around 30 minutes left, Andre Hofschneider’s side fell to a 2-1 home defeat to Ingolstadt, who struck decisively twice in the space of five minutes to grab the points.
With just the traditional Weihnachtssingen to come, the Union faithful gathered hoping to end a disappointing run of results in the 2.Bundesliga. The tempo of Union’s start mirrored the support from the terraces, which was vociferous despite the cold conditions in Köpenick.
In the fifth minute, a clever free kick from Stephan Fürstner and Simon Hedlund set up Sebastian Polter in behind, but Orjan Nyland held on to the striker’s shot. The good pressing and quick transitions shown in the first half hour highlighted why Union’s best performances have come at home this season.
There was a lapse in the final five minutes, but goalie Jakob Busk was alert and reactive to block from Stefan Lex as the scores remained level.
Just like the start, Union returned from the dressing room with an extra edge. Ingolstadt’s Alfredo Morales bundled over Marcel Hartel in the box and there was no hesitation from Stuttgart-based referee Martin Petersen, who pointed to the spot. Skrzybski showed great composure to step up and knock the ball into the corner.
Despite the lead, Ingolstadt had another plan up their sleeves and forced the home side on to the back foot. Thomas Pledl manoeuvred out of a tight area and assisted Robert Leipertz for the equaliser in the 73rd minute. Before there was much time to gather a breath, Almog Cohen was fouled in the box and Dario Lezcano converted the resulting penalty kick.
Union battled hard, but faced an uphill battle after losing the lead. “We saw a very intense game today with two teams who played aggressively for the win,” said Hofschneider at the post-match press conference. “We had one or two good chances which we could have taken. Ingolstadt kept calm under pressure, which is what we missed after the equaliser. In the end, football is a results sport: we had one goal, Ingolstadt had two. They deserved to win.”
The lights go out at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei after the Weihnachtssingen next weekend and the players will have a break in Spain with matches against Gent and Wehen Wiesbaden to come.