Joel Pohjanpalo was the hat-trick hero on Saturday as 1. FC Union Berlin ran out 3-1 winners against Werder Bremen at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
The 26-year-old added to his two previous strikes for Union with an impressive treble inside the space of 18 minutes.
Theo Gebre Selassie headed past Andreas Luthe in the 81st minute but it was just a consolation for Florian Kohlfeldt’s struggling side.
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Ryerson (Trimmel 90), Knoche, Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Lenz; Gentner, Andrich; Ingvartsen (Prömel 73), Kruse (Musa 45), Pohjanpalo (Teuchert 73)
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka; Augustinsson, Moisander, Friedl (Bargfrede 62), Gebre Selassie; Eggestein, Groß; Raschica, Möhwald (Dincki 62); Sargent, Füllkrug (Selke 62)
Urs Fischer made four changes to his starting eleven for the penultimate home game of this Bundesliga season. Christopher Trimmel, Petar Musa, Keita Endo and Grischa Prömel earned some time on the bench with three games in a week, while Nico Schlotterbeck, Julian Ryerson, Christian Gentner and Joel Pohjanpalo started. Florian Kohlfeldt’s starting side included Christian Groß who stepped in for Milos Veljkovic who broke his nose in the 0-1 defeat to Mainz. There was pressure on the visitors from northern Germany following 1. FC Köln’s victory at Augsburg last night to start the matchday in the Bundesliga – Werder started the game a point ahead of the Billy Goats. The front three of Milot Raschica, Niklas Füllkrug and Josh Sargent was kept at arm’s length, but the Kosovan winger in white threatened with a tame shot at Andreas Luthe’s goal from distance. At the other end, Union huffed and puffed but struggle to break through against a compact Bremen defence. Union led in corner kicks by 4-0 at the half-hour mark, but Werder held firm. Robert Andrich’s range of shooting from distance came as close as it got to an Union goal in the first 45 minutes, but Werder were well-organised to protect Jiri Pavlenka’s goal.
Fischer reacted to the goalless first 45 minutes with a change, switching Max Kruse for Petar Musa. The Union looked a bit more traditional with two strikers and it didn’t take long for them both to make a game-winning impact. On 50 minutes, Marvin Friedrich won Marcus Ingvartsen’s corner kick, nodding the ball into the six-yard-box and Pohjanpalo bundled past Pavlenka. Within two minutes, the Finland international doubled his tally, running on to an excellent bit of hold-up play from Musa and then lashing across Pavlenka and into the bottom corner. Both strikers combined to great effect and with two goals in the bag, Union were hungry for more. Ingvartsen was again key in creating opportunities from the left, setting up first Musa from the left but the on-loan Slavia Prague striker was denied by the Czech goalkeeper. The subsequent rebound was returned into the box and Pohjanpalo missed from a few yards out. Union Berlin’s number nine didn’t have to wait much longer to celebrate a hat-trick: on 68 minutes, Musa played through to the Finn and he thumped home from a tight angle. If it weren't for some last-ditch defending and excellent goalkeeping from Pavlenka, Union may have had four or five on the day. The Bremen number one made a superb save from Robin Knoche who almost made it 4-0 for the home side. But Union's job wrapped up for the afternoon, Werder had a couple of opportunities to close the deficit. Gebre Selassie made a header out on 81 minutes, but Union's well-drilled backline was comfortable and made sure the three points stayed in Köpenick.
As the Bundesliga season draws to a close, Union will be put to the test against European-chasing rivals on the road. On Saturday 8 May, Union will head to the Volkswagen Arena to play VfL Wolfsburg at 15:30.