Union Berlin kicked off the 2017-18 season with a 1-0 win over relegated Bundesliga side FC Ingolstadt at the Audi-Sportpark.
Rampant right-back Christopher Trimmel scored a superb goal after 59 minutes to secure three points for Jens Keller’s side in front of 10,870 fans. Even though, Stephan Fürstner had shrugged off injury problems to be fit in time for the season opener, he was kept on the bench. New signing Akaki Gogia was still low on fitness and was left out of the matchday squad.
Maik Walpurgis’ Ingolstadt put Union under early pressure, with a high-pressing tactic aimed to force errors in the away side’s backline. But the Berliners defended with confidence against the dangerous duo of Stefan Kutschke and Dario Lezcano. Referee Sascha Stegemann was kept busy during the first league game of the season and had to blow a number of times for mistimed challenges. Felix Kroos’ strike towards the end of the first half was close, but the opening 45 minutes of the league season for Union ended without a goal.
Union came out of the block strongest after the interval and were able to turn their superiority into a goal just before the hour mark. Polter’s quick thinking at a throw in on the left-hand side opened up a shooting situation for Trimmel around the edge of the box. The Austrian made no mistake, sending the shot past the outstretched arms of Ingolstadt keeper Martin Hansen.
With the advantage behind them, Union dominated possession and remained in control of the tempo of the game. Damir Kreilach was agonisingly close to a second goal with about a quarter of the game left. Unsurprisingly, Ingolstadt threw caution to the wind on home soil with the backing of their supporters, but the Union defence stood firm to take all three points back to Berlin.
“We couldn’t get into the game in the first 20 minutes,” said Keller. “We had little bravery and lost the ball too easily. However, after that, it was better. We had some good situations and the match was even. It was also quite balanced in the second half, but we had a bit of luck. After taking the lead, we did not concede much and worked well against the ball. With the ball, though, we still have room for improvement.”
Union returns to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei this coming Friday (18:30 Berlin) for the first home clash of the season against Holstein Kiel.