Despite Sebastian Andersson's late header, 1. FC Union Berlin fell to a 2-1 defeat at Darmstadt.
Yannick Stark's goal shortly after the restart put the home side in front. With Union pushing bodies forward, Darmstadt took advantage at a set-play with 13 minutes left as Maximilian Wittek headed in from a central position in the box.
Andersson pulled one back shortly before the end, but it proved to be a consolation goal.
Darmstadt: Heuer Fernandes; Herrmann, Höhn, Wittek, Holland; Stark, Palsson; Heller, Kempe (Moritz 67), Mehlem (Sirigu 88); Dursun (Platte 78)
1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Trimmel, Parensen (Polter 74), Friedrich, Reichel; Schmiedebach (Gogia 66), Prömel, Ryerson (Mees 58), Zulj: Andersson, Abdullahi
The Berliners fielded the same starting line-up, which secured all three points in a 2-0 win over Hamburg last Sunday at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Florian Hübner returned from injury, but started on the bench. Though the teams struggled to find a rhythm, in part due to some fouls and in part due to some strong defending, Union forced the first scoring opportunities of the day. Daniel Heuer Fernandes was kept on his toes, gathering a weak header from Sebastian Andersson on 24 minutes and a low strike from Julian Ryerson four minutes later. Robert Zulj’s free-kick may have had enough power to beat the Darmstadt keeper, but the strike hit the outside of the post. Dangerous throughout the first half in behind the home defence, Suleiman Abdullahi came inside with a sharp turn of pace and forced a good save with a left-foot drive as the stalemate continued into the break.
Darmstadt struck first blood within three minutes of the restart. Marcel Heller's speed made life difficult for the Union defence and the cut-back was buried into the net by midfielder Stark. Towards the hour mark, the Köpenick club tinkered with the shape on the pitch – Ryerson and Schmiedebach were replaced by Joshua Mees and Akaki Gogia. With Darmstadt's defensive structure keeping out Union, Fischer added Sebastian Polter to a three-man frontline with the hope of finding the elusive goal. However those plans were made a little more complex when Wittek attacked Stark's free-kick and doubled the home side's lead. It was always going to be hard to overturn a two-goal deficit in the final minutes, but Andersson gave Union some hope with a fine header on 87 minutes. A late flurry of power-play from Fischer's team put Heuer Fernandes to the test in stoppage time: Abdullahi passed up a great chance from close range, while Zulj first struck the post and was then denied by the Darmstadt keeper. In the end, Union were left without the points as we prepare for the penultimate weekend of the league campaign, with 1. FC Magdeburg the visitors to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei next Sunday.