1. FC Union Berlin picked up the first three points of 2021 with a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen.
Sheraldo Becker scored the opener after 12 minutes and Taiwo Awoniyi continued his fine run in Union colours with the second on 28 minutes. The first three points after Christmas will move Union higher in the table, but the games will arrive thick and fast as the Bundesliga is back up and running.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka; Gebre Selassie, Toprak (Veljkovic 83), Friedl, Augustinsson (Chong 76); Eggestein, Groß; Schmid (Fullkrüg 76), Osako (Selke 45), Bittencourt (Mbom 45); Sargent
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Trimmel, Friedrich, Knoche, Hübner, Lenz; Prömel (Griesbeck 76), Andrich; Ingvartsen, Becker (Teuchert 88), Awoniyi (Ryerson 83)
Urs Fischer asked for a response this week following Union's German Cup exit at home to Paderborn on December 22. The Union coach turned to the squad and handed starts to Florian Hübner and Marcus Ingvartsen. Hübner's inclusion at the back was his third league appearance of the campaign and Union returned to the back-three defensive line. Marvin Friedrich celebrated his 100th competitive appearance for 1. FC Union Berlin at the Weserstadion. After 12 minutes, Fischer's side were ahead as the front pair of Becker and Awoniyi dragged Werder Bremen out of position. It was a two-versus-two attack, the Dutch winger turning the ball past Jiri Pavlenka from close range. Awoniyi went for goal a few minutes later but blazed over the crossbar after neat link-up play by Ingvartsen. Marco Friedl and Omer Toprak struggled to get to grips with the pace of Union on the break and the ball was in the net for a second time in the 28th minute. Robert Andrich pressed the ball at a home throw-in, put Awoniyi straight through on goal and the Nigerian managed to squeeze the ball past Pavlenka. Bremen's chances were kept at a premium and referee Tobias Stieler had to intervene towards the close of the first 45 minutes. Romano Schmid tucked home emphatically from inside the box but after consulting the video referee Thomas Stein, the young Austrian was adjudged to be in an offside position.
A double substitution from Florian Kohlfeldt naturally saw Werder Bremen twist for a point or three. Union held their position and shape really well and Andreas Luthe's goal was unscathed throughout. On 56 minutes, Union's first push into attacking positions almost resulted in the third goal. Awoniyi ran in behind Toprak, cut the ball across the penalty box but Grischa Prömel shot wide of the target. Prömel combined with Becker after 70 minutes and the Dutch winger picked out the intelligent run from the on-loan Liverpool centre forward but Awoniyi blazed over the crossbar. Fischer was selective in his use of changes in the final 20 minutes, looking for the right time to take the sting out of the match. Sebastian Griesbeck was introduced in the place of Prömel who was given the opportunity to have a breather after an intensive December schedule. Julian Ryerson was brought on in place of Awoniyi as the Norwegian was tasked with tightening up the middle zone. There was a chance for Davie Selke at a set-piece, but the striker fumbled his attempted finish and Luthe scooped up the loose ball in the six-yard-box. Cedric Teuchert was the final player to use a fresh set of legs to close out the three points in the north of Germany. Fischer's team repeated the controlled and dominant performance of the last visit to the Weserstadion and Union started the new calendar year with three points.