1. FC Union Berlin beat Maccabi Haifa 3-0 to pick up their first win in Group E of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Kevin Behrens scored his second in two Group E matches following Andreas Voglsammer's first-half opener at the Olympic Stadium. Behrens headed in the second after 48 minutes and Taiwo Awoniyi racked up the third for Urs Fischer's side with a fine finish.
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow; Trimmel, Knoche, Friedrich, Gießelmann; Möhwald (Prömel 70), Khedira, Haraguchi; Becker (Öztunali 77), Behrens (Awoniyi 70), Voglsammer (Puchacz 77)
Maccabi Haifa: Cohen, Mohamed (Jaber 71), Planic (Arad 79), Atzill (Haziza 60), Chery, Donyoh (Sahar 60), Menachem, Rodriguez, Dahan (David 45), Meir, Gershon
Urs Fischer made five changes to his starting XI from the 1-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga. Kevin Behrens, who scored the winner at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Saturday, was handed a starting berth ahead of Taiwo Awoniyi. Max Kruse was replaced alongside him by Sheraldo Becker, while Genki Haraguchi came in for Grischa Prömel. With Paul Jaeckel suspended and Timo Baumgartl out with concussion, Kevin Möhwald returned from injury after going off on his debut against Augsburg. Goalkeeper Andreas Luthe was given the night off with Frederik Rönnow making his competitive debut following his arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt. The Israeli champions have played their fair share of European matches this season, starting in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round before dropping directly into the UEFA Europa Conference League via the champions pathway. In ties against Torshavn, Dinamo Tbilisi and Neftchi, Haifa scored seven goals across each respective tie. But despite the odd flash of interest from Tjaronn Chery, Union held firm. The first action in the Haifa penalty box was enforced error on the part of Ori Dahan who passed the ball straight to Voglsammer. The striker took a touch but Dahan recovered in time to put him under enough pressure to strike over the bar. Union looked to gradually find spaces and opportunities without testing Joshua Cohen until about half an hour into the game. Kevin Möhwald’s looping volley threatened on 28 minutes but the Maccabi Haifa goalkeeper pushed the ball comfortably clear. Two minutes later, Niko Gießelmann fired over the target from around 25 yards following a clearance from Sheraldo Becker’s cross. Eventually the door was unlocked as Behrens powered into the penalty box from the right-hand side, drawing the ball across for Voglsammer to bundle home. It wasn’t pretty but the Union number one notched up the Köpenick club’s first home goal in Group E of this season’s UEFA Europa Conference League.
Three minutes after referee Nick Walsh kicked off the second 45 minutes, Union had their second goal of the night. Trimmel stood over a free-kick near the corner flag, putting the ball into a dangerous area where Behrens rose highest among a ruck of green and white shirts to head into the corner. The 30-year-old popped up again for the Köpenick club – his second goal in the UEFA Europa Conference League. Becker was keen to get in on the act but his shot went wide on 56 minutes. Two minutes later, Becker fired a good strike on the target but the ball clipped the post and went away from danger. In the pre-match press conference, Fischer identified Chery as a potential danger to Union from midfield and despite getting into a good position, the number 10 shot right at Rönnow. Union rotated with 20 minutes left with Grischa Prömel and Awoniyi taking the places of Behrens and Möhwald respectively. Substitute Awoniyi didn’t have to wait long before his impact counted. Trimmel and Genki Haraguchi combined neatly in the build-up before Becker picked the ball up on the right. The Dutch winger picked out a brilliant cross and the Nigerian smashed into the roof of Cohen’s net. Levin Öztunali and Tymoteusz Puchacz were given the nod with 13 minutes to go. Rani Khedira made way after a fine midfield display, replaced by Julian Ryerson with eight minutes to go. A fourth could have come for Union when Puchacz ran through on goal but Cohen delivered another strong stop.
The win takes Union off the mark in Group E after the MD1 defeat at Slavia Prague. Union will go head-to-head against Feyenoord over the next matchdays in the UEFA Europa Conference League.