Robin Gosens celebrated his first ever start for 1. FC Union Berlin in incredible fashion, scoring two in a superb 4-1 win over SV Darmstadt 98. His goals were complemented with one each for Kevin Behrens and Danilho Doekhi, and all as the guests were down to ten men following Brenden Aaronson’s second yellow as early as the 20th minute
SV Darmstadt 98: Schuhen – Maglica (67. Vilhelmson), Riedel, Klarer (46. Bader) – Nürnberger, Holland, Mehlem (78. Kempe), Franjic – Honsack (46. Hornby) – Pfeiffer, Manu (67. Stojilković)
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow – Juranović, Doekhi, Knoche, Leite, Gosens (84. Roussillon) – Laïdouni (64. Kemlein), Král, Aaronson – Fofana (25. Becker, 64. Volland), Behrens (64. Siebatcheu) Goals:
Goals: 0:1 Gosens (4.), 1:1 Mehlem (24.), 1:2 Gosens (34.), 1: 3 Behrens (39.), 1:4 Doekhi (65.)
Fischer takes his pick
One of Urs Fischer’s favourite phrases is “die Qual der Wahl”, or the agony of choice, basically; that luxurious problem beloved of all football coaches of having too many talented players to get them all on at once. And as his squad has continued to develop under the watchful eyes and furiously tapping fingers of Oliver Ruhnert his positive problems had hardly been lessened. Take Kevin Behrens, off the back of a superb hat-trick last weekend against Mainz, who scored scored again for example. Or the fact that every weekend he is faced with deciding which of his two world class right-backs in Josip Juranovic and the skipper, Christopher Trimmel, is to take to the flank.
Today’s astonishing, uproarious victory against the recently promoted SV Darmstadt saw Juranovic starting, and claiming two assists with it, but the back three is a different matter, of course. One gets the impression he has carved the names of Danilho Doekhi (taking the captain’s armband for the first time), Diogo Leite and Robin Knoche on a stone tablet, back in the Alte Försterei’s dressing room wall, ahead of Frederik Rönnow – himself a hero last week with an implausible two penalty saves. Alex Kral remained in place as the holding midfielder, tucking in behind Aissa Laidouni and Brenden Aaronson, the steel and the silk of midfield.
But it was another player who would give the gaffer a new headache, because this was all about Robin Gosens, making his Bundesliga starting debut in the most spectacular of fashions, scoring twice, and performing superbly on the left all day.
Following Aaronson’s red card, and injuries to Fofana and then his replacement, Becker, his options would maybe not look as troubling as they had before kick off. But it would be impossible to see too many dangers ahead.
But it would be impossible to see too many dangers ahead. After the final whistle Fischer couldn’t shower enough praise on his team, for the way they showed their spirit and their togetherness in a wonderful game of football.
"They fought for evey centimetre," he said.
And if his most beautiful of agonies are somehow not quite as endless, his side continue to perform magic.
Gosens’ starting debut-double, Aaronson’s red and Behren’s header feature in a roaring first half
Gosens made his first tackle of his Bundesliga career after just a couple of minutes, when he blocked Bartol Franjic with an ease befitting a man who had just played in the Champions League final, but that was nothing. After three minutes there was a misplaced header in the Darmstadt back line. The ball dropped to the new man, he cut inside of Clemens Riedel, taking him out of the game completely and stepped aside of Christoph Klarer. He finished off by hitting a rocket of a left footer past Marcel Schuhen in the home team’s goal.
For drama, it was impossible to top. For a proper debut, more so. If it had been written in advance, few would have believed it.
Union were pushing and pulling their hosts all over the place, Fofana taking a ball from Juranovic that almost set him free on goal, but his first touch was a tad too heavy. Gosens’ tackle on Klarer was a thing of much beauty, the foul that followed showing that mettle allied to his grace.
Following the blistering start – even if Union had taken two minutes longer to take the lead than last week – the game took off. Braydon Manu shot wide under the attentions of Kral, and again after ten minutes when he beat Leite in a sprint. Rönnow had to race out of his goal to sweep up when Darmstadt looked to have hit Union on the break. Behrens almost slipped in on goal following a lovely Laidouni pass, then headed just over from the ensuing corner.
Aaronson had flickered early on, but he had got a yellow card in the first ten minutes for having nudged the ball away following a whistle from the referee in the middle, when he barely rolled the ball away, then he picked up a second for a foul on Fabian Nürnberger.
There were 70 minutes to play, and Union would have to do it all with ten men. And one of them, Fofana, wouldn’t be one of them. He trudged off the pitch following a knock, replaced by Becker, who also took the armband.
And within moments it was to get harder for the guests. Luca Pfeiffer conjured a backheel of the deftest kind, flicking the ball through to Marvin Mehlem, who strode onto it and blasted past a stunned Rönnow. Union were suddenly rocking.
But they fought back, winning a free kick on the right. Juranovic whipped the ball into the box where Gosens rose to head home magnificently from the edge of the six-yard box. If last week belonged to Behrens, then this was becoming Gosen’s day. The Unioner rubbed their eyes, few had come to Union with such expectations. And few had ever seen a debut like it.
Behrens, now playing on his own up top, had other things on his mind though. After a mix up in the Darmstadt box, partly caused by the chaos his very presence inspired, he nodded home to make it a scarcely believable 3-1 to Union. He had scored four goals in two, and he wheeled away, a smile on his face a mile wide, pointing to his golden forehead.
The superb Mehlem drove just wide with five minutes to play, the game was now a roaring, soaring, visceral rush as the sides attacked and countered, trading blow after blow, but it would 3-1 for Union as the sides went in at the break.
Darmstadt pile on the pressure; Rönnow keeps them at bay. And Doekhi scores the fourth
It was unremitting. Leite headed Juranovic’s corner onto the post following a deflection after a minute. The half-time substitute Fraser Hornby couldn’t quite get on the end of a deep, dangerous ball up the middle, then Mehlem, again, shot only just over the bar. Leite was fouled by Pfeiffer; then he drove wide six minutes in. Gosens almost found Behrens on the hour.
Union tried to slow the tempo, Kral turning on the ball, under constant pressure for the Darmstadt midfield, Becker chasing everywhere, chasing down lost causes, closing up gaps. Knoche flicked one away off the boot of Pfeiffer, Doekhi made a superbly timed last-minute challenge in his own box, and then Rönnow made a stunning stop from Manu’s point blank shot, his arms and legs spread out as far as they would go.
The keeper kept Union in the game. He dove to his right to palm away Riedel’s shot at full stretch with ten minutes to go.
Then the worst that could happen did. Becker pulled up as he broke down the inside right channel., holding the back of his thigh. He can be so important at times just like this, when his selfless running makes up for the lack of manpower, just as he did in Malmö. He was joined by Behrens and Laidouni on the bench, replaced by Jordan, Volland and Aljoscha Kemlein.
Suddenly Union made it four, but it was a goal tinged with a moment of sudden fear. Doekhi caught a superb header from another inch-perfect Juranovic set-piece but he was caught in a sickening clash of heads as he did so. He lay prone on the ground, his team-mates looking worried, not knowing if they should celebrate or not. It took a few minutes for him to get back up.
Darmstadt never gave up, but they were all out of luck, despite their unremitting late pressure on Rönnow’s goal. They hit the post with 20 minutes to go through Christoph Klarer, but again Rönnow reacted to flick the ball away as it flew almost behind him to the still looming striker.
Kemlein was an ich away from joining Gosens in the pantheon, his glorious dipping shot from outside the box striking the bar.
But as Gosens would leave the pitch with just over five minutes to play, having not only scored two on his first start for his new club, but also having covered that left flank, up and down and up and down, with diligence and pace, and near flawless timing in the tackle he was allowed a moment to take it all in. He described it as being "almost the perfect afternoon", and he wasn't wrong.
He was replaced in the now glorious sunshine lighting up the magnificent Union fans along that wing by Jerome Roussillon.
If, following Becker and Fofana’s injuries, and Aaronson’s red card, Fischer’s not quite as tormented by choice as he was before this game, he can at least look back on a staggering starting XI debut, a superb win under the heaviest of pressures while being a man down, and the birth of the newest of heroes in Köpenick.