1. FC Union Berlin picked up their first point of the 2020/21 Bundesliga season following a 1-1 draw away from home at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
A fortnight after a dramatic winner in the DFB Pokal, Nico Schlotterbeck was once more the hero, heading in the decisive goal from Marcus Ingvartsen's corner after 80 minutes.
After a good spell of pressure, Borussia Mönchengladbach took the lead through Marcus Thuram.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer; Kramer, Elvedi, Ginter; Bensebiani, Hofmann, Lainer, Neuhaus (Herrmann 85); Thuram (Wendt 70) Plea (Wolf 75), Stindl
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Knoche, Friedrich, Schlotterbeck; Trimmel (Ryerson 73), Lenz, Prömel (Griesbeck 88), Andrich; Bülter (Teuchert 73), Becker (Kruse 70), Awoniyi (Ingvartsen 70)
Urs Fischer made two changes from last week's home defeat to Augsburg with Nico Schlotterbeck coming in and a debut given to striker Taiwo Awoniyi. Max Kruse started on the bench after his league debut last week as he visited his former club at Borussia-Park on Saturday. In line with the local health measures, 10,000 were permitted to attend the game – however there was a noticeable absence in the away section with no travelling supporters making the journey. Union Berlin settled reasonably quickly into the contest and started to make use of their threat on the counterattack. Particularly effective at hitting space in behind the Gladbach full-backs was Sheraldo Becker, the Dutch winger being at the heart of everything positive for the Köpenick club. After 15 minutes, his cross created a chance for Awoniyi – albeit with the assistance of a deflection – which gave the on-loan Liverpool striker his first shot at goal in Union colours. Becker's pace and running forced Ramy Bensebiani into uncomfortable situations and referee Tobias Stieler handed the young Algerian a yellow card after just 11 minutes. While Union enjoyed their spells of attacking play, Marco Rose's Borussia Mönchengladbach carried a razor sharp threat at the other end. Alassane Plea and Thuram exploded on to the Bundesliga stage last season and the pair double figures as the Foals secured a place in this season's UEFA Champions League. On 17 minutes, Plea shot past Robin Knoche and forced Andreas Luthe into his first excellent save of the game. The end-to-end, frantic nature of the attacking play on each side was fertile breeding ground for the quickest players on the park. In a series of counter-attacking moves from Union, Becker shot wide after 20 minutes, hit into the side-netting in the 27th minute and then smashed one against the crossbar after 31 minutes. From that effort, neither Grischa Prömel nor Awoniyi could turn the ball home in what would prove to be Union's best opportunity of the first half. The experienced Luthe had to be alert with seven minutes left until the break, reacting quickly to push clear a header from Plea.
The first 45 minutes, especially after last week's disappointing scoreline, gave Fischer's men increased confidence into the second half. However, Union were struck a blow when Mönchengladbach turned a period of decent football into a goal – Marcus Thuram rising to convert the corner taken by Jonas Hofmann. A pre-planned substitution came into action with Ingvartsen and Kruse taking the place of Becker and Awoniyi. Julian Ryerson and Cedric Teuchert soon followed as Union saw a lot more possession between the lines and in front of Gladbach's defence. The technical play between Ingvartsen, Kruse and Teuchert brought Union regularly higher up field and allowed Fischer's men to eventually fight back. Ingvartsen stepped up to take the corner on 80 minutes and Schlotterbeck's looping header beat the combined efforts of Yann Sommer and Lars Stindl on the line. One point could have become three as Kruse played in Teuchert, but the ball came to the weaker foot of the former Schalke and Nürnberg attacker who failed to test Sommer. Then, with three minutes left, Bensebiani was inches away from capping off a miserable afternoon by turning a cross into his own net. A winning goal evaded Union in the end, but the Köpenick club will gladly take a well-earned point back to the capital city.
1. FC Union Berlin's next Bundesliga game is on Friday October 2 when Mainz come to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.