Nico Schlotterbeck announced himself as an Union player with a stunning late winner in extra time to send Urs Fischer's men into the second round of the German Cup.
With the Round 1 clash at the Wildparkstadion in Karlsruhe heading for penalties, the on-loan Freiburg defender hooked in a superb winner in the 117th minute from Niko Gießelmann's cross.
Karlsruher SC: Gersbeck; Heise, Kobald, Bormuth, Thiede; Wanitzek, Fröde (Groiß 112), Gondorf (Pisot 116); Goller (Lorenz 111), Hofmann, Djuricin (Kother 81)
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Knoche, Friedrich, Schlotterbeck; Gentner (Mees 91), Prömel (Griesbeck 101), Gießelmann (Ryerson 120), Trimmel; Ingvartsen, Bülter (Andrich 91), Teuchert (Becker 61)
Andreas Luthe, Robin Knoche, Nico Schlotterbeck, Niko Gießelmann and Cedric Teuchert made their competitive debuts for 1. FC Union Berlin in the German Cup clash. Fischer's side went out at the quarter-final stage last season and they will be looking to go further in the 20th season since Union reached the final of the Cup for the first time. Union's squad issues were straightforward: Christopher Lenz was suspended for this round, while Max Kruse and Sebastian Andersson are working towards full fitness. After last week's successful run of supporters back at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, Karlsruhe invited 350 supporters – 500 overall maximum – to watch the game in accordance with the regulations in the region.
As early as the fourth minute, Marvin Friedrich was very close to breaking the deadlock, which would have been the perfect start for Union. Christopher Trimmel dropped a corner kick into the area, Friedrich dominated and his effort came back off the post. The rebound, which landed as far as Christian Gentner, was blazed over the crossbar from the edge of the box. A minute later, Trimmel advanced on the right, switched the play intelligently and Gießelmann's strike was a metre wide of the target. With four goals in the final two pre-season games against Ajax and Nürnberg, Union may have found life frustrating at the Wildparkstadion as Karlsruhe did a job on the Bundesliga club. If Christian Eichner's side kept the score blank, there was always a risk of something at the other end. On 24 minutes, Marvin Wanitzek threatened with a shot but Andreas Luthe gathered after the ball took a wild deflection. The former Stuttgart midfielder is the playmaker at KSC and he looked the most dangerous player in the blue of the home side. At the end of the half, Wanitzek's 35-yard strike from a set-play forced Luthe to scramble across the line to make sure the club from Baden-Württemberg stayed on level terms.
Christian Eichner's team have shown no shortage of character in recent months following their dramatic survival in the 2.Bundesliga. That commitment and desire was on display when the players returned for the second half. Aside from a long-range shot of Marius Bülter after 50 minutes and a final-minute shot from Gentner, KSC held their own. Robin Bormuth headed over after 58 minutes and the danger from set-plays was reinforced when Philipp Hofmann also nodded over. Urs Fischer turned to his bench after 61 minutes to bring on Sheraldo Becker for Cedric Teuchert, which meant Marcus Ingvartsen led the line for the final half hour. Referee Benjamin Cortus closed the 90 minutes on time to take this German Cup clash to an extra 30 minutes of action. Union freshened up with Joshua Mees and Robert Andrich and there was a notable change. Becker was regularly picked out in the wide areas by Schlotterbeck's excellent diagonal passing, the Dutchman supplying the Union attackers with great crosses. Bormuth got in ahead of Ingvartsen to stop the Dane from scoring after the restart, while Prömel saw his shot blocked in a congested area. Sebastian Griesbeck gave Union the final push from the substitute's bench – with penalty kicks looking somewhat inevitable at this point. However, Union bailed themselves out in the closing minutes, engineered from Gießelmann's lung-busting run to win a free-kick then deliver it himself. Schlotterbeck's acrobatic effort nestled into the corner of the net and books the Köpenick club a slot in the second round of Germany's national cup competition.
The first game in the domestic competitions will have taken its toll on the squad, but there's little time to rest given next weekend is the start of 2020/21 Bundesliga season. On Saturday at 15:30, another 5,000 supporters will be present at the Alte Försterei to see Union open their second-ever season in Germany's top division against FC Augsburg.