A chaotic 90 minutes at the Betzenberg went in favour of Kaiserslautern, who ran out 4-3 winners in difficult conditions. After Union had brought the game back to 3-3, Philipp Mwene took advantage of a mistake to score the winning goal and bring the Red Devils closer to survival.
Friday’s proceedings could hardly have got off to a worse start when Sebastian Polter tore his Achilles tendon during the warm-up. Simon Hedlund, who was already struggling pre-match, was called into action, while Philipp Hosiner was recalled to the starting eleven.
As early as the sixth minute, Kaiserslautern broke the Union resolve. Australian Brandon Borrello controlled a bouncing ball around 35 yards from goal and lobbed keeper Daniel Mesenhöler with an impressive finish. The snow was troublesome for both sides, but Andre Hofschneider’s team did adapt to the conditions with Felix Kroos coming close on two occasions.
Swedish striker Sebastian Andersson had a topsy-turvy first half – first missing a hatful of chances before turning the ball into his own to give Union Berlin a much-needed source of luck. A few minutes later, however, he made up for his blunder with a header from inside the six-yard box to put Kaiserslautern back ahead going into the break.
Union’s own Swede Hedlund was taken off at the interval due to a problem with his foot. Dennis Daube was introduced and made an immediate impact as he helped Steven Skrzybski to score his 12th of the season on 51 minutes. Having levelled again, Hofschneider was left frustrated as mistakes at the back opened the gates again for Kaiserslautern. Borrello was bundled over inside the box, allowing Christoph Moritz to make it 3-2 with 24 minutes left.
Following Polter and Hedlund’s earlier knocks, Union were left to heal more wounds with Michael Parensen hobbling off in the wintery conditions. There were signs of fight and determination from the Berlin club with Skrzybski leading from the front, smashing home an empathic equaliser with nine minutes left on the clock. But it was to be another frustrating away trip with Mwene capitalising on a mistake from Mesenhöler to score the winner with four minutes to go.
If there was any bone of comfort for the Köpenick side to take back, it’s that the next encounter is at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, where form has turned in recent weeks. Eastern rivals Erzgebirge Aue arrive from the mining city and are expected to bring a strong away following. Kick off on Sunday March 11 is at 13:30 with gates opening 90 minutes before.