The search for a win came to an end on Saturday as Union Berlin ran out deserved 3-1 winners over Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Despite trailing at the break, Andre Hofschneider’s battled through and scored three second half goals to claim their first three points since the beginning of November.
Preparations for Düsseldorf’s visit couldn’t have got much worse – Hofschneider was forced to leave out Marcel Hartel, Toni Leistner, Dennis Daube and Peter Kurzweg, who were all sick this week. Damir Kreilach’s confirmed departure to Major League Soccer meant there was a return for Akaki Gogia as the coach stuck with his three-man backline.
Draws against Holstein Kiel and Arminia Bielefeld have been a crumble of encouragement for Hofschneider and his players, and it was clear to see the commitment from the first whistle. Simon Hedlund fired the first warning shot, before Felix Kroos worked Raphael Wolf a few minutes later. The captain then had an opportunity to test the keeper from a free-kick on the edge of the box, but he curled it the wrong side of the post.
Such is the nature of football, territorial and possession dominance can often count for little. The visitors, top of the league before this matchday, broke away on the counterattack, the ball eventually coming across to midfielder Florian Neuhaus who finished in off the post from around 12 meters out.
A tactical change in the break saw Michael Parensen step into the heart of midfield and give Union extra stability against the ball. Straight away, the Köpenick club were on the front foot. Kristian Pedersen flooded the Düsseldorf box with a spurry of crosses from the left-hand side, but none were converted. Sebastian Polter ought to have scored on 48 minutes, while Parensen headed over inside the six-yard-box, just a few minutes later.
Adam Bodzek’s hand thwarted the progress of Christopher Trimmel down the right flank and referee Robert Hartmann didn’t hesitate to point to the spot in the 65th minute. Steven Skrzybski claimed the responsibility from the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way. The goal opened the floodgates as Union shot towards the Waldseite, with Polter turning home Gogia’s saved shot on 71 minutes.
As Düsseldorf pushed for an equaliser of their own, Union were presented with acres of space on the counterattack and could have sown up the three points long before stoppage time. The third arrived four minutes into added time when Skrzybski rounded the keeper and scored to the delight of the fans behind Wolf’s goal.
“Today I'm especially happy for the team,” said Hofschneider in the post-match media conference. “The last few weeks have not been easy for some players. Still though, we didn't do everything right today, and in the last few weeks we have not done everything wrong. Despite the run, the team did not let themselves be deterred and were rewarded. I am also very happy for the fans.”
With a win under their belt, Union will make the short trip to Eintracht Braunschweig next Sunday (13:30) on matchday 23.