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Union Lose 4-3 to Bochum

Vertessen, Bedia and Hollerbach Score Second Half Goals

Sun, 05. May 2024
Union Lose 4-3 to Bochum

Union lost 4-3 to Bochum on Sunday afternoon, despite a fantastic second half performance roared on by a tumultuous stadium that saw them score three goals. They had gone into the break three down, before Yorbe Vertessen, Chris Bedia and Benedict Hollerbach all scored.

1. FC Union Berlin:Rönnow –Juranović, Doekhi, Vogt (46. Vertessen), Leite, Gosens – Tousart (46. Aaronson), Khedira (88. Knoche), Schäfer (70. Král) – Volland (46. Bedia), Hollerbach 
VfL Bochum 1848: Riemann – Passlack (88. Gamboa), Ordets, Schlotterbeck, Bernardo – Osterhage, Bero (79. Mašović), Stöger, Wittek (67. Antwi-Adjei) – Hofmann (79. Daschner), Broschinski (67. Oermann) 

The starting XI

Nenad Bjelica made only two changes from the side that had fought so hard for the goalless draw in Mönchengladbach. In goal, as ever, was Frederik Rönnow, behind a back three of Diogo Leite, Danilho Doekhi and a Kevin Vogt who had recovered from the knock that took him out of the second half last weekend. They were flanked by wingbacks, Robin Gosens on the left and Christopher Trimmel on the right.

The midfield was made up of Rani Khedira and Lucas Tousart, while Andras Schäfer, coming in for Brenden Aaronson, was given space to roam behind Kevin Volland and Benedict Hollerbach, himself replacing Yorbe Vertessen, who was back on the bench.

Attendance: 22.012  

Goals: 0-1 Wittek (16.), 0-2 Wittek (31.), 0-3 Schlotterbeck (36.), 1-3 Vertessen (59.), 2-3 Bedia (62.), 2-4 Hofmann (71.), 3-4 Hollerbach (74.) 

Bochum go three up, Union struggle to hold back the tide

There were flags everywhere, a roaring tumult in the stands. The Unioner had called for a sea of them, but at kick off this was more like the Southern Ocean in Winter. That was nothing, though, as this wild game developed in ways that few would have foreseen in a clash between 15th and 16th in the table; a game about which Union’s head coach, Nenad Bjelica called “a game of two different halves.” 

If he was getting close to the oldest English football truism of them all, he couldn't have been closer to the truth.

On the pitch, meanwhile, things were just as raucous as Patrick Osterhage caught Hollerbach early, forcing him briefly off the pitch, before he barged over Volland to no response from the referee, Marco Fritz. Ivan Ordets then bundled Hollerbach over again, not long after he had Leite’s shirt almost over his head, just as Juranović’s first free kick of the day was lofted into the box. Leite’s first touch would come in his own box, lumping Felix Passlack’s long throw, flicked on past Vogt, away into the ether.

Union’s plan was clear, let Hollerbach and Volland chase everything up top, and spread the play as much as possible, to catch the guests on the break - just as Volland did when he brought down Rönnow’s long ball with a gorgeous touch on the right before sweeping a raking crossfield ball out towards Gosens on the opposite flank – or to use every set-piece for all it was worth. Juranović and Gosens combined neatly from Union’s second corner in a row on the left in the opening minutes, albeit to no avail.

Union looked good, fleetingly, but was the guests who took the lead, even if somewhat against the run of play. Maximilian Wittek blasted Moritz Broschinski’s low cross from the right in at the near post as he darted into the box.

Hollerbach was like a lightning rod for fouls, he was brought down again after almost 20 minutes by Bernardo, five yards in from the right hand corner flag. Juranović’s ball caused chaos in the box, but neither Khedira nor Leite could get on the end of it.

Things weren’t rolling for Union as the incredible fans had hoped for, and Bochum were taking control of the game. Hollerbach and Schäfer challenged for the same header in the centre circle; Volland’s ball up the line rolled harmlessly out; Gosens’ throw-in went straight to Bero. And when Leite did well to get in front of Broschinski, Union still conceded a throw after his pass to Juranović went out.

Still, Union fought on, Volland finding time out on the right to swing in a ball that Manuel Riemann did well to get to ahead of Tousart, but with half an hour played it was Bochum again who scored a deserved second - again - through Wittek, as he turned inside the box past two, and finished – again - inside the near post.

Doekhi was brought down as he encroached into the Bochum half with a typical, barrelling run. The resulting free kick was headed goalwards by Leite, but saved by Riemann as he dived to his right.

Things would soon get worse for Union, as Kevin Schlotterbeck, greeted before kick off as a Fußballgott, finished on the half volley from inside the 18 yard box with his left following a spell of head tennis and pinball out on Union’s right that saw Passleck cut the ball back to him, and by now Union just couldn’t get themselves back into the game.

Rani Khedira couldn’t give enough praise to the Unioner, after the final whistle.

“I don't really have an explanation as to why the first half happened the way it did,” he said. Bjelica reasoned that, “Bochum were very effective in the first half and we were too nervous.”

Leite cleared Wittek’s cross from the right when he’d found more space on the right; Matúš Bero saw his shot from range deflected but held by a sliding Rönnow. Passlack’s ball from the right swung onto Bernardo’s head, but he put the half chance wide. 

The Unioner held their breath.

Union rally through vertessen, Hollerbach and Bedia. Hofmann breaks their hearts

Things would change soon enough though, as the Alte Försterei took on a whole new dimension of support. Bjelica had rung in the changes at half time, bringing on Chris Bedia, Brenden Aaronson and Yorbe Vertessen for Volland, Tousart and Vogt, switching to four at the back in an effort to turn the tide, and Bedia was involved straight away, winning a free kick off Schlotterbeck, before, a minute later, being dragged by him to the ground.

The first free kick came to nothing, the second wasn’t even given.

Union flickered. Schäfer found Aaronson whose clever back-heel behind his back landed at the feet of Vertessen; Hollerbach beat Bernardo down the right but saw Vertessen called for a charge when trying to connect with his cross.  At the other end Wittek’s drive fell to Ordets, who put his own shot wide. Rönnow held Wittek’s stab after he and Bero had contrived an inch of space on the edge of Union’s box.

Then, suddenly, there was hope. Bedia showed the quickest of feet to move the ball away from Bero, the ball eventually finding its way to Vertessen whose drive from 25 yards was perfectly struck across Riemann and inside the right hand post.

Union were back in it, and the crowd reacted, viscerally, vividly. Schäfer’s volley on the turn seemed to strike Bernardo on the hand, but it was waved away by Fritz as the Bochum player stayed on the ground, the stadium exploding with fury.

That, however, was nothing. A minute later Schäfer and Bedia found themselves bearing down on goal. The Hungarian took the ball on, sliding it in for Bedia who showed another piece of superb footwork to drag the ball out from under him, and finish past Riemann to make it 3-2.

Union were now as if possessed, the stadium a whirling torrent of noise, picking up power with every touch. They cheered a Gosens throw in from the left inside his own half as if it was a penalty kick, Schäfer's winning of a corner off Schlotterbeck on the left like they’d won the cup. Juranovic’s sliding challenge on Christopher Antwi-Adjei, as the striker threatened to break down the left, shook the roots of the trees.

But they would suddenly fall silent, stunned, if even for the slightest of seconds, as Phillipp Hofmann scored with the greatest of ease, popping up in the box, heading home Passlack’s clipped in cross, giving Rönnow no chance.

Schäfer had come off, meanwhile, replaced by Alex Král with 20 minutes to play. But that was the least of the news.

With quarter of an hour to play Aaronson got the ball with his back to goal, out to the right but inside the box. He managed to turn, bringing the ball down and laying it off for Hollerbach in a single, deft move. Hollerbach scored with the instep of his left, hammering it furiously past Riemann.

Leite was floored in the box shortly after, as if things couldn’t get any louder, but again the referee waved it away. Bochum played for time, Bero and Stöger went down with cramp, the latter having to be stretched out by a Leite desperate to get things moving again as quickly as possible. They all were. Aaronson charged across the pitch, snapping at the ball; Rönnow raged as substitute Lukas Daschner got in his way when he tried to throw out quickly.

Bochum weren’t to be cowed. Daschner bent a shot over the bar, and Rönnow was out sharply to get to the ball just before him with ten minutes left to play. He held Kevin Stöger’s corner calmly before springing another Union counter down the right. Passlack robbed Vertessen, the Dutchman having just cut inside of Tim Oermann.

Then Robin Knoche came on for Khedira with just minutes to play, with Doekhi taking not only the armband, but also a place up top, as Union threw everything they had left at their guests, the home crowd giving as much as they had, responding to the fight shown by their players on the pitch.

Hollerbach drove across the middle, the eventual cross met by a flying Aaronson, but his diving header was too close to Riemann. Schlotterbeck flicked the superb Aaronson’s dangerous cross out for a corner with five minutes time left to be played. Rönnow, up implausibly for the corner, then headed the set-piece just over the bar, the ball dropping over the top corner in stop motion, memories of Rafal Gikiewicz conjured, and suddenly banished.

It was bedlam. Cristian Gamboa got a yellow for bringing Vertessen down as he sprinted towards the centre-circle, cutting inside from the left with intent.

But there was nothing more the Union players could do. They had given everything, and dropped to their knees and to their backs as the final whistle blew.

Khedira was keen to take the best from the loss. “Of course we're disappointed," he said. "But we'll be ready for the next tasks tomorrow at the latest. We want to give everything to get the last six possible points,” Bjelica, too, was looking only forwards after the fight his side had shown in the second half.

“We have to take the positive energy from the second half into the next duel," he said. 

Union had tried everything. It just wasn’t to be.