1. FC Union Berlin are through to the second round of the DFB Pokal following a 6-0 victory against Regionalliga side VfB Germania Halberstadt.
Keven Schlotterbeck headed the Bundesliga club from Köpenick into a first-half lead before second half goals from Sebastian Andersson, Christopher Lenz, Joshua Mees, Robert Andrich and Anthony Ujah took the stuffing out of Sunday's lower-league opponents.
VfB Germania Halberstadt: Sowade; Pläschke, Ambrosius, Twardzik, Schulze; Tchakoumi, Bretgeld; Messing (Korsch 16), Wenzel; Yilmaz, Blaser
1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Trimmel, Schlotterbeck, Parensen, Lenz; Prömel, Gentner; Becker (Mees 60), Bülter, Ingvartsen (Andrich 65); Andersson (Ujah 71)
Competitive football in Germany commenced this weekend with the opening round of the DFB Pokal, the German FA Cup. Union Berlin made the trip to VfB Germania Halberstadt, last season's runner-up in their regional competition which secured their second appearance in the famous tournament. Urs Fischer's first starting line-up of the new season featured five new faces – Schlotterbeck, Christian Gentner, Marius Bülter, Sheraldo Becker and Marcus Ingvartsen. The usual central defensive pairing of Marvin Friedrich and Florian Hübner was unavailable due to suspension and injury, respectively.
The surface at the Friedensstadion offered little help to either side, if they wanted to build through the centre of the pitch. Halberstadt went direct to both of their strikers at the start of the game and looked to frustrate Union with a deep defensive line. Goalkeeper Florian Sowade was the most involved member of the Halberstadt team and kept the fourth-tier club in the game throughout the opening 45 minutes. Inside two minutes, 20 & 22, Sowade stood firm to prevent Andersson from scoring with a couple of snap shots. But on 27 minutes, a standard set-play from Christopher Trimmel was met by a bullet header from Schlotterbeck, who notched his first goal for 1. FC Union Berlin since joining on loan from SC Freiburg in the summer. Five minutes later, Lenz drove forward from an inside position and fired a great strike on target, but only as far as the crossbar.
Halberstadt's chances were limited to force Rafal Gikiewicz into a sweat, but on 53 minutes they were not far off from equalising. Twardzik found Blaser with a neat pass, the striker squeezing his way into the box but the shot was high and wide of the target. The crucial second goal arrived on 65 minutes: Ingvartsen retaining possession and playing through Andersson who slotted under Sowade. From there on, the floodgates opened with the home side struggling to find the balance between chasing a goal and holding out for a closer scoreline. Grischa Prömel assisted Lenz on 67 minutes, the left-back scoring with an outstanding left-foot strike from the corner of the box. Mees and Andrich were introduced around the hour mark and both contributed to the fourth on 71 minutes – the former Heidenheim midfielder drilling the ball across goal for Mees to tap home. Andrich fired in a fifth with a well-taken right-foot volley from the edge of the area. Substitute Ujah recorded his first goal in competitive action for Union, holding off Ambrosius and rounding Sowade before finishing into an empty net with two minutes left.
With a second round date booked in the calendar, Fischer's Union can look forward to the first league match in the Bundesliga on Sunday August 18 at 18:00. RB Leipzig are the visitors to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei for the highly-anticipated league opener next week.