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A point apiece at the Alte Försterei against Mainz

Ingvartsen levels for Union:

Wed, 27. May 2020
A point apiece at the Alte Försterei against Mainz

Marcus Ingvartsen's free-kick earned ten-man 1. FC Union Berlin a point at home to Mainz. 

But Urs Fischer's team had to do it the hard way after falling behind to a 13th-minute opener from German youth international Ridle Baku. Mainz dominated long periods at the Alte Försterei without the same intensity coming from the terraces, but Union's Danish U21 international came up trumps to finish off from a free-kick in the 33rd minute.

Union were forced to complete the task with a player fewer after Robert Andrich was shown a second yellow card after 42 minutes – the midfielder will miss the weekend's trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Subotic; Trimmel, Ryerson, Andrich (Sent Off 42), Gentner; Bülter (Prömel 65), Andersson, Ingvartsen (Mees 73)

Mainz: Müller; Bruma, Niakhate, Hack; Boetius, Quaison (Ji 73), Kunde (Latza 81), Baku, Barreiro; Awoniyi (Onisiwo 62), Mateta (Szalai 81)

With Union and Mainz fighting for survival in the Bundesliga, the stakes on the park were high at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei – once again closed to the public due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Urs Fischer called upon the services of Keven Schlotterbeck and Neven Subotic at the back following last Friday's defeat at the Olympic Stadium. Julian Ryerson stepped in at left-back, with Christopher Lenz out of the squad through injury. Christian Gentner's experience strengthened the central midfield area, while the same front three was retained. Achim Beierlorzer's team were coming into this one off the back of a 0-5 home defeat to RB Leipzig, but the Carnival Club enjoyed an early confidence booster as Baku tucked home from 15 yards out to put the visitors ahead. In general, the game was scrappy and competitive although Mainz held the upper hand in the opening quarter of an hour. It took Fischer's men about 27 minutes to piece together a constructive attack, switching the play to Ryerson whose long-range drive won a corner kick. Five minutes later, Gentner was bundled over near the edge of the box and the Köpenick club took advantage of the free-kick – Ingvartsen's left-foot shot caught Florian Müller flat-footed and the Dane celebrated his fifth Bundesliga goal of the season. Referee Robert Schröder was at the thick of the action as the half came to a close, but a challenge from Andrich prompted the match official to award the midfielder his second yellow card of the game.

Fischer pro-actively shuffled the pack in the closing stages of the half with Ingvartsen assuming a central role in midfield and Bülter edging closer to Sebastian Andersson. The Swede was lively following the restart and forced out a smart save from Müller who held on to the ball under pressure. For all Mainz threatened with pace and balls in behind, goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz was rarely at the heart of the action. On 53 minutes, Mateta put the Polish number one under pressure, powering into the box and just about beating the Union goalie, but his finish landed on to the top of the net. A man down for more than half of the game, Union Berlin unsurprisingly looked to maximise set-piece situations in the final-third. Christopher Trimmel picked out Marvin Friedrich on 64 minutes but the defender's header was diverted over. The changes from the bench arrived in the final half an hour with Fischer introducing Grischa Prömel and Joshua Mees for energy, particularly to support Trimmel and Ryerson in the full-back positions. There's no doubt the dominance in possession lay with Beierlorzer's team but the most dangerous attacks were aimed at Müller's goal in the final minutes. Andersson and Mees combined in the box, picking out Prömel but the away side recovered in time to prevent the midfielder from scoring the winner. In stoppage time, Müller held his position and collected a goal-bound header from Keven Schlotterbeck, which would have handed all three points to the Köpenick club. 

Next Sunday at 15:30, Union are back in action in the Bundesliga with Urs Fischer's men making the trip to Borussia-Park to face Borussia Mönchengladbach.