Max Kruse scored a double as 1. FC Union Berlin picked up a sensational three away points in the Bundesliga at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Kruse's winner after 85 minutes came against the run of play, but proved to be the decisive action to decide the 2-1 win for Union. The number 10 scored from the penalty spot on 17 minutes, but Mönchengladbach equalised through Manu Kone.
As Union dug into the reserves, a brilliant combination from Niko Gießelmann and Kruse unlocked the Gladbach defence to bag all three points before the international break.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer; Netz (Scally 87), Elvedi, Ginter (Plea 87) Friedrich, Lainer; Kone, Zakaria, Neuhaus, Hofmann (Herrmann 70); Embolo
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow; Trimmel, Gießelmann (Oczipka 88), Knoche, Baumgartl, Jaeckel; Khedira, Prömel (Möhwald 59), Kruse (Haraguchi 88); Becker (Öztunali 70), Voglsammer (Behrens 59)
Three days after the DFB Pokal derby win at Hertha, Union Berlin faced another stern challenge at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Despite Adi Hütter's side facing their own struggles this season, The Foals have quality across the pitch including the likes of Matthias Ginter and Denis Zakaria. Former Union defender Marvin Friedrich started for his new club – 11 days after making the move from the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Sheraldo Becker returned for the Köpenick club, while Paul Jaeckel and Niko Gießelmann slotted in the usual defensive positions. Frederik Rönnow started between the posts – as he was planned to do on Wednesday night but prevented by personal reasons. Union used the limited periods of possession to good effect at Borussia-Park. Derby goalscorer Voglsammer headed straight at the hands of Yann Sommer after eight minutes. On 17 minutes, match referee Felix Brych consulted with video assistant referee Henrik Bramlage and awarded Urs Fischer's side a penalty kick. A loose ball in the Gladbach box struck the hand of Zakaria and Brych was convinced enough to give Union the spot kick. Max Kruse stepped up and sent Sommer the wrong way – his fourth goal of the campaign. After the first 20-odd minutes had passed, Gladbach earned more confidence and posed a threat to Union. Florian Neuhaus struck over the target on 23 minutes while the lion's share of possession lied at the home side. But whatever avenue Borussia Mönchengladbach tried, Union's organisation and team work proved a hard nut to crack. It was always going to take a moment of individual quality to unlock the Union defence – and that came through Breel Embolo on 36 minutes. The Swiss international dropped deep, beating two Union players with a smart spin and that left the visitors in danger. Manu Kone took the ball in at the edge of the box in space and fired direct past Rönnow from about 18 yards out. The equaliser gave the 750 supporters a lift inside Borussia-Park and Gladbach did their best to turn the screw again, but Union held on until the turnaround.
Goalscorer Kone carried most of Gladbach's threat from midfield and he tested Rönnow on 47 minutes with a shot from distance. Union's forward play was hampered by the energy needed to get from defence-to-attack in transition moments. With a taxing derby in midweek, Fischer's side had to be cautious and disciplined. In the right moments, the final pass was sometimes lacking – as seen when Becker and Voglsammer combined on the break after 57 minutes. Adi Hütter's side had the dominance and Florian Neuhaus tried again from range but the shot was deflected wide on 68 minutes. On 77 minutes, Gladbach eventually got in behind the Union backline and carved the chance of the match. It was a combination between Denis Zakaria and Breel Embolo which turned the Union defenders towards the goal. The ball came shooting across the six-yard box but Luca Netz blazed over from yards out. The home team were getting closer to the second goal and were a step quicker and sharper than Union. But somewhere, somehow, Union found the energy and quality to win the match six minutes later. Union played out from defence, working the ball across the field to Gießelmann. The left-back knocked the ball in behind substitute Patrick Herrmann and Kruse held his nerve before smashing past Sommer from a tight angle. Fischer introduced Genki Haraguchi and Bastian Oczipka for the nervy last six minutes at Borussia-Park with Gladbach expected to throw the kitchen sink at Rönnow's goal. Union stuck together and cleared everything that came into the box to claim a huge three points and maintain an unbeaten start in 2022.
1. FC Union Berlin will host a friendly match at home to Erzgebirge Aue in the middle of the next international week. Ticket information here.