Taiwo Awoniyi scored 1. FC Union Berlin's 100th Bundesliga goal as his brace fired Urs Fischer's side to a 2-1 victory at Mainz.
Awoniyi added to his three previous goals this season with a double inside four second-half minutes to turn the game around following Marcus Ingvartsen's opener for Mainz in the first half.
But despite going in behind at the break, Union fought back against a strong Mainz side who remained unbeaten at the MEWA-Arena until today. Awoniyi scored his first on 69 minutes to mark the new Union record before scoring in the 73rd minute to put Union in control of three vital Bundesliga points.
Mainz: Zentner; Widmer, Bell, St. Juste (Nemeth 20); Brosinski (Stöger 77), Barreiro (Niakhate 77), Kohr, Lucquoi; Burkhardt (Stach 66), Onisiwo, Ingvartsen (Boetius 66)
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Ryerson, Jaeckel, Friedrich, Knoche, Gießelmann; Prömel, Haraguchi (Behrens 62), Khedira; Kruse (Voglsammer 81), Awoniyi (Möhwald 81)
Union secured their first win in Group E of the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Maccabi Haifa. Coach Urs Fischer started the rotation process three days ago and continued that into Sunday's game with six changes. Andreas Luthe, Paul Jaeckel, Julian Ryerson, Grischa Prömel, Taiwo Awoniyi and Max Kruse were given the nod at the MEWA-Arena. Former Union attacker Marcus Ingvartsen lined up for the Carnival Club against his old employers. Considering the impact of Bo Svensson on his team, Union went to Mainz expecting a tough afternoon's work. Mainz's aggressive pressing and fast attacks always gave the Köpenick club something to think about and given the similarities in style, both teams cancelled themselves out early. Svensson was forced into an early change on 20 minutes after Jeremiah St. Juste landed awkwardly on to his left arm – he was replaced by David Nemeth after consultation with Mainz's medical staff. Two minutes later, Awoniyi came so close to breaking the deadlock, but the Nigerian was unable to convert the excellent cut back from Max Kruse. Mainz's first chance was a threat from wide as Karim Onisiwo crossed for Andy Luqcoui who headed over. Barreiro Martins threatened on the edge of the box, but the Union back three just about kept him out. Former player Ingvartsen took his opportunity to score on 39 minutes after a Mainz counterattack. Jonathan Burkhardt linked with Onisiwo and then the Dane finished off from the centre of the box.
Union responded after the break with some dangerous attacks in the direction of Mainz's box. Julian Ryerson had two bites at the cherry on 48 minutes to hit the target but the home side got enough bodies back in time to cover Robin Zentner's goal. The ball landed eventually to Max Kruse who shot over the target from the edge of the box. Union's number 10 was key in creating the best chance for the away team in the first hour, a threaded pass breaking the defensive barrier but Awoniyi dragged his shot wide of the post. Fischer tweaked his side a bit to accommodate Kevin Behrens from the bench with Kruse slipping back into the 10 position. Union's dominance from middle-to-front was richly rewarded in three minutes as the Köpenick club turned the game around to take the lead in dramatic fashion. Kruse's sharp through pass sent Awoniyi on his way on 69 minutes, the striker holding off his marker before firing past Zentner to mark the century of Bundesliga strikes for Union. After celebrating his usual cool fashion, Awoniyi notched another goal in the 73rd minute, powering clear of his opponent before firing across Zentner and into the back of the net. Svensson's team and Mainz pushed to their limit and gave Union a lot to think about late on. Karim Onisiwo passed up on two opportunities without testing Andreas Luthe. Substitute Niakhate crossed dangerously in the 88th minute for Widmer in the box but the Mainz centre back headed past the post. Dominik Kohr was sent off by Tobias Stieler in stoppage time as Urs Fischer's side held on for three important points to make 12 from a possible 27 in the 21/22 campaign and three on the bounce in all competitions.