Petar Musa scored his first goal in the Bundesliga for 1. FC Union Berlin as Urs Fischer's side defeated Stuttgart 2-1 at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
The loan striker from Slavia Prague fired home to put Union into a two-goal lead following Grischa Prömel's opener for the Köpenick club.
Philipp Förster netted after 48 minutes to make it a nervy second half for the home side, but three points were protected to keep Union in the hunt for Europe.
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Trimmel (Ryerson 84), Lenz, Knoche, Schlotterbeck, Friedrich; Prömel (Griesbeck 84), Andrich, Gentner (Ingvartsen 62); Musa (Teuchert 70), Kruse
VfB Stuttgart: Kobel; Anton, Mavropanos, Karazor; Endo, Thommy (Churlinov 58), Kaminski (Cisse 84), Coulibaly (Massimo 45), Stenzel (Förster 45); Didavi (Klimowicz 45), Kalajdzic
Urs Fischer changed the starting XI in two positions from the 1-1 draw at league-leaders Bayern Munich last weekend – in came Christian Gentner and Nico Schlotterbeck for Keita Endo and Marius Bülter. The skipper Trimmel was passed fit following his nose operation and he wore a special mask for today’s game at the Alte Försterei as a precaution.
Stuttgart’s eighth-placed position pre-today has been earned under Pellegrino Matarazzo’s management with star striker Sasa Kalajdzic leading the line – the number 9 struck twice to earn Stuttgart a point in the last clash between the teams in the Hinrunde. The Swabians worked the best of the actions in the opening 10 minutes without unsettling the Union rearguard. Tanguy Coulibaly and Atakan Karazor tried their luck from distance but neither tested Andreas Luthe. A well-worked attack from the Köpenick club led to the opener in the 20th minute with Gentner spraying a wonderful pass in behind for Trimmel who picked out Prömel at the far post, the midfielder making no mistake from close range. Robin Knoche tested Gregor Kobel with a header from a set-piece but the general pattern of play was fairly equal between two teams competing for a late surge into the European positions in the Bundesliga. Three minutes before referee Benjamin Cortus blew for the break, 34-year-old Trimmel once again delivered a fantastic cross from the right and on-loan striker Musa headed home for the first time in the Bundesliga.
Stuttgart clearly had seen enough from the first 45 minutes and made three changes at the break – Philipp Förster, Roberto Massimo and Mateo Klimowicz replaced Pascal Stenzel, Coulibaly and Daniel Didavi. Two minutes into the half, a neat attack from the visitors ended up in a goal for Stuttgart as Förster netted with acres of space in the box. Stuttgart’s new-look side asked new questions of Union but Fischer’s side battled hard and held their own. Musa was influential in holding the ball up and creating opportunities for his team-mates, the Croatian showing one of his most impressive performances since joining from Slavia Prague. Musa set up Prömel on 58 minutes but Waldemar Anton made an important block. From the resulting corner, Friedrich came close to putting Union back into a two-goal lead. Substitute Darko Churlinov blazed wide for the visitors but Union passed up huge opportunities to settle the nerves. Christopher Lenz sent a wonderful cross between Gregor Kobel and the Stuttgart central defenders, Max Kruse sneaked in but his diving header went off target. Kruse nearly squeezed one in seconds later, but Kobel pushed over with an excellent save. Massimo broke clear after 81 minutes and his shot took a deflection over Luthe's goal as Stuttgart piled on the pressure. Every tackle was 100% on both teams and Fischer dipped into his bench for fresh legs - Julian Ryerson, Sebastian Griesbeck and Cedric Teuchert earned game time in the final 20 minutes. There were scrambles in both penalty boxes but Union showed once again resilience and team spirit to see out a difficult encounter and take all three points in the Bundesliga.
There's little time to rest for Urs Fischer's men as Union head to Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night (20:30) to face Borussia Dortmund.