There were red cards on both sides on Saturday afternoon as 1. FC Union Berlin and Greuther Fürth played out a 1-1 draw at the Sportpark Ronhof l Thomas Sommer.
Joshua Mees put the visitors ahead after 36 minutes, his fifth goal of the season. Union gained a numerical advantage two minutes later with Daniel Keita-Ruel shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
But Greuther Fürth recovered after the interval and equalised through a corner kick, with Marco Caligiuri heading home on 67 minutes. Nicolai Rapp was shown a straight red card for a last-man tackle three minutes later and the Union defence had Rafal Gikiewicz to thank for a string of important saves towards the end.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth: Burchert; Sauer, Jaeckel, Caligiuri, Wittek (Raum 69); Seguin, Ernst, Green; Atanga (Redondo 46), Keita-Ruel, Reese (Omladic 90)
1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Trimmel, Friedrich, Rapp, Reichel; Prömel, Kroos (Andersson 68), Zulj; Abdullahi (Mane 63), Polter (Gogia 77), Mees
Fischer restored Robert Zulj to the starting team against his former club, while Nicolai Rapp stepped in to replace Florian Hübner who was injured this week. In attack, Sebastian Polter was given the nod ahead of Sebastian Andersson. Much improved under coach Stefan Leitl, Fürth hoped to press ahead with their home advantage in the opening phase of the game. Rafal Gikiewicz took one in the face to keep out Julian Green’s shot from close range. The Polish goalkeeper tipped a shot from David Atanga around the post, while Peter Jaeckel headed over the crossbar from a corner kick. Although clear scoring opportunities were limited, Union asserted control of the game in midfield. The hosts recovered well in most situations when Union threatened on the counter-attack, but eventually the Köpenick club broke the resistance. Suleiman Abdullahi’s strong pressure off-the-ball forced Marco Caligiuri to clear as far as Zulj, who broke into the box before seeing his strike saved by Sascha Burchert. The rebound went high into the air, but Mees rose quickly and converted from a few yards out. A key moment in the game, referee Dr. Martin Thomsen showed a straight red card to Daniel Keita-Ruel after the striker pushed Felix Kroos aggressively in the face.
Union controlled the start of the second period with a couple of opportunities in front of Burchert's goal. Grischa Prömel and Abdullahi asked the question, before the Nigerian striker was withdrawn on 63 minutes for Carlos Mane. Resolute defending from Greuther Fürth prevented Union from scoring within a minute, as Mees was denied on two occasions from point-blank range, while Ken Reichel's follow-up strike was deflected clear. Not long afterwards, the home side levelled, taking advantage of a corner kick and Caligiuri heading past Gikiewicz. Sebastian Andersson was introduced and joined Polter in attack, but Fischer's plan went to the wall with 20 minutes to go as Rapp was shown a straight red card. Akaki Gogia took the place of Polter with a quarter of an hour left, but Union Berlin struggled to carve out a chance to find the winner. At the other end, some heroic goalkeeping from Gikiewicz kept the scores at 1-1. With a couple of minutes left, Fabian Reese shot straight at the keeper from a one-v-one situation as the hosts looked the more likely team to score.
1. FC Union Berlin welcome Hamburger SV next Sunday, April 28, at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.