1. FC Union Berlin fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Schalke 04 on Friday, ending a run of three successive victories in the Bundesliga.
The Royal Blues clinched the points with four minutes to play through Suat Serdar's goal on the counterattack. Urs Fischer's men had levelled late the scores late in the first period when Marcus Ingvartsen finished off from the spot, cancelling out the opener from Benito Raman.
FC Schalke 04: Nübel; Kenny, Oczipka, Kabak, Nastasic; Mascarell, McKennie; Serdar, Harit (Becker 90), Caligiuri; Raman (Kutucu 84)
1. FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz; Schlotterbeck (Hübner 26), Subotic, Friedrich; Lenz, Andrich, Gentner, Trimmel; Ingvartsen, Andersson (Ujah 85), Bülter (Becker 70)
From the 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach last week, Fischer made two changes: Marius Bülter returning in place of Anthony Ujah and Robert Andrich taking Felix Kroos' spot in midfield after sitting out a suspension. It was the kind of start Union Berlin were hoping for in Gelsenkirchen as the newly-promoted club took the game to Schalke on their home patch. Ingvartsen was denied by a superb late tackle from Matija Nastasic, while Alexander Nübel parried clear a shot from Marius Bülter in the first seven minutes. Union showed more than enough respect to the experienced Schalke team who eventually broke the deadlock on 23 minutes – Kabak setting up Raman for an emphatic finish. Union took another blow two minutes later when Keven Schlotterbeck hobbled off with injury – he was replaced in central defence by Florian Hübner. The change caused no issues for Union structurally and Fischer's team moved into their strongest phase of the game. Nübel's outstanding save prevented Sebastian Andersson from heading the opener into the net, but six minutes later, the Schalke captain was beaten. Robert Andrich was fouled and the match referee pointed to the penalty spot on 36 minutes. Ingvartsen rattled the ball high into the net as the Danish attacker continued his productive run of form and his second league goal of the season.
David Wagner's team, which started the matchday in fifth place, came out of the traps in the second half. Union defended well as a unit as we've seen time and time again under the stewardship of Fischer. The emergencies land at the door of Rafal Gikiewicz, who stepped up to make a number of important interventions. On 50 minutes, Raman ran through on goal but was blocked by Gikiewicz – despite the Belgian being caught in an offside position. Raman shuffled inside from the left of the box, firing on target and forcing Gikiewicz into a strong save. A collision with Amine Harit left the Polish goalkeeper down for a few minutes, although he eventually soldiered on after receiving some treatment from the club's medical staff. The home side kept out Union's strong attack with a couple of long-range shots bringing Nübel into action before the match's decisive moment. Schalke hit the Köpenick club on the counter with Serdar sliding the ball into the corner in the 86th minute.
With a long weekend to regenerate and pick up the spirits, 1. FC Union Berlin will come back to Köpenick and begin preparation for next Sunday's home Bundesliga match against 1. FC Köln. The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is sold out for the 15:30 kick-off against the Billy Goats.