Marcus Ingvartsen and Marius Bülter scored in the second half as 1. FC Union Berlin held 34-time Dutch league champions Ajax to a 2-2 draw in Amsterdam.
Introduced at the close of the first half, Ingvartsen dragged Urs Fischer's team back into the game after the restart following Carl Eiting's 27th-minute opener. Bülter followed up with powerful finish to give Union their just rewards for a fine performance in the Netherlands. Ajax squared the game with 20 minutes left through academy graduate Jurgen Ekkelenkamp.
AFC Ajax: Stekelenburg; Dest, Timber, Magallan (Mendez 83), Rensch (Kasanwirjo 80), Eiting, Neres (Timber 35), Ekkelenkamp, Traore (de Vaal 60), Kudus (Unuvar 60), Lang
1. FC Union Berlin: Luthe; Schlotterbeck (Hübner 67), Friedrich, Knoche; Gießelmann (Lenz 67), Trimmel (Ryerson 67), Prömel, Gentner (Griesbeck 67); Endo (Ingvartsen 41), Bülter (Mees 58), Andersson (Teuchert 67)
The Bundesliga club from Köpenick travelled to Amsterdam to take on opposition of a high calibre at the Johan-Cruijff-Arena. A day earlier, Ajax beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in front of a restricted crowd, but for organisational reasons our visit would be played behind closed doors. Sebastian Andersson was handed his first starting berth of the pre-season schedule as the Swedish international looks to get up to speed after injury.
Once the tempo had climbed out of first gear, Fischer's team immediately looked to press home a good start. Christopher Trimmel, who received a late call-up into the Austria squad, picked out Grischa Prömel and the midfielder's header came back off the post after 14 minutes. The Union skipper then crossed for Christian Gentner in the 20th minute but the midfielder shot wide of the target. Five minutes later, Niko Gießelmann's set-play led to Union scoring through Marvin Friedrich's header – however the central defender strayed offside against Ajax's high defensive line. Erik ten Haag's side, however, went up to the other penalty box and punished Union's lack of clinical edge in front of goal. Eiting converted past Andreas Luthe from close range after tidy and precise combination play from the left-hand side. Union almost made the perfect response when Andersson cushioned a high ball into the path of Bülter, but his shot was pushed away by the 37-year-old Maarten Stekelenburg. After half an hour, Union came close again from a corner – Trimmel sending the ball towards the penalty spot but Robin Knoche headed over despite the referee blowing up for a foul. Meanwhile, the half ended on a downer as Keita Endo's game ended prematurely after the winger pulled up with some discomfort in his hamstring. Fischer quickly took advantage of his strong substitute's bench and introduced Marcus Ingvartsen before the half fizzled out.
The 24-year-old from Denmark led the Union fight back in the second 45 minutes, pulling one back three minutes after the restart. Ingvartsen darted in from the right and turned Gießelmann's cross past Stekelenburg with a first-time, well-controlled finish with his left foot. A scare followed at the other end as Lassina Traore was presented with an open goal but Marvin Friedrich and Robin Knoche recovered to clear the danger. Summer signing Gießelmann was evidently more confident and dominant after the first assist, leading the press against the ball on many occasions. The former Fortuna Düsseldorf left-back delivered another telling cross on 57 minutes, which got the better of the Ajax central defenders. The loose ball landed direct into the path of Bülter and the 27-year-old smashed the ball high into the net. On the counterattack, Union showed they could also be a threat in the 63rd minute as Nico Schlotterbeck ran almost the length of the park, setting up substitute Joshua Mees who missed the target. Union's number 8 turned provider after 65 minutes, rising with a surprise header to tee up Prömel who forced a brilliant save from Stekelenburg. Despite looking at ease on the famous Ajax pitch, the fact it was pre-season meant there was the typical flurry of changes – Sebastian Griesbeck, Florian Hübner, Cedric Teuchert, Julian Ryerson and Christopher Lenz all had the chance to get some minutes. Ajax equalised in the 70th minute to end the scoring with Ekkelekamp given the simple task of tapping in after combination play between Lang and Timber.
After a worthwhile exercise in Amsterdam, Union will prepare for a home match next Sunday in Köpenick in front of 5,000 supporters when 1. FC Nürnberg are the visitors to mark a century of football at the Alte Försterei.