Leart Paqarada scored the decisive goal as Sandhausen added to a disappointing week of results for Union Berlin.
Jens Keller’s side, without a win in four previous games, couldn’t bounce back from the left-back’s winning goal, 10 minutes after the half-time interval.
Just under 5,000 were in attendance in Sandhausen, with Keller following up on his words to make some rotations to his 4-2-3-1 selection. But Kenan Kocak’s side started faster and were unlucky not to lead after four minutes when Lucas Höler set up Philipp Klingmann, but the right-back failed to convert.
The Berliners required something dynamic to breakdown a stubborn Sandhausen rearguard, with Philipp Hosiner doing his best. Hartel played the Austrian centre-forward clear with a looping through pass, but the striker’s shot landed in the side-netting. The half-time break offered both teams the chance to regroup, but it would be Sandhausen who took the initiative after the restart.
Paqarada, a nuisance on the left side and contributing to most of Sandhausen’s good attacking actions, found the net on 55 minutes. In a rather bizarre set of circumstances, Klingmann’s throw-in managed to cross the width of the pitch, where the Kosovo internationalist collected the ball and struck past Jakob Busk from around 25 yards out.
Keller reacted with the aim of strengthening Union’s attack – Sebastian Polter and Simon Hedlund were introduced in place of Hosiner and Stephan Fürstner. Polter turned the flow of the game in Union’s favour temporarily with two efforts around the 70th minute mark. With the lead behind them, Sandhausen saw the game out with a deep defensive block and quick counterattacks through on-loan Schalke kid Haji Wright.
“We tried to improve in the game through possession, but it didn’t work out,” Keller explained in Sandhausen. Therefore, in a well-balanced game, we could not develop the necessary attacks at the front, with a speculative shot enough to win in the end. We need to stabilise ourselves and show we have done on training this week. We couldn’t show that today unfortunately.”
Kaiserslautern, struggling at the foot of the table, are next on the line for Union Berlin, presenting a great opportunity to get back to winning ways. We will be back at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Monday 25 September at 20:30 local time.