The women's team of 1. FC Union Berlin beat Türkiyemspor, 3-0, on Sunday afternoon in Kreuzberg to go clear in second place in the Regionalliga Nordost table. In a superb encounter, more competitive than the scoreline would possibly suggest, the goals were all scored by Union's brilliant captain, Lisa Heiseler.
Türkiyemspor Berlin: Scheunemann - El-Kassem (80. Vom-Dahl), Schrey, Schick, Michalke (68. Laue), Wolter Cosme, Lübcke, Szuh, Almasalme, Aydin, Yavuz
1. FC Union Berlin: Wagner - Wildner, Becker, K. Orschmann, D. Orschmann - Frank, Görsdorf, Heiseler (90+1. Trojahn) - Youssef (77. Bach), Rurack, Reissner (82. Krauss)
Goals: 0:1 Heiseler (24.), 0:2 Heiseler (43.), 0:3 Heiseler (89.)
A tough start, Heiseler proves the difference
So much had been said about this match - second versus third - in its build-up it was easy to forget that its ultimate consequences would largely be about pride. For neither Union nor Türkiyemspor have much chance of overtaking league leaders, Viktoria, at this late stage of the season. but it did set an important marker for what is expected to be next year'Äs title race, as well as showing off the competitiveness of the league. It was compelling and combative, as well as entertaining for the 200 fans at the Willy-Kressmann-Stadion, nestled into the bottom corner of Kreuzberg's Viktoria Park.
Union's head coach, Ailien Poese, was taking no chances here. She made only two changes from the side that beat SV Eintracht Leipzig-Süd, 13-1, a fortnight ago. Naika Reissner, who recently qualified for the European Championship with the Austrian U19 national team, returned to the starting line-up in place of Lina Krauss, and Lisa Görsdorf returned to her midfield berth in place of Sophie Trojahn.
The hosts started strongly, they had pace on the flanks, bite and power in the middle where captain Erika Szuh was trying to put her stamp on the game, and a striker in Leyila Aydin who was constantly on the shoulder of the last defender, looking to turn and run towards goal.
But Union started to establish themselves more and more as the half wore on, the midfield trio of Heiseler - playing in her eight / ten role, always chasing back, always with an eye for a sharp break or a quick ball forwards - Gösdorf and Celine Frank growing into the game. The pressure they were starting to put Türkiyempsor under was starting to tell, and it was from a Luise Wildner corner after 24 minutes that the captain, Heiseler, scored the opener as she darted into a space just on the edge of the six yard box to head home.
Union could have put things out of sight shortly after having taken the lead, Nour Youssef missing two glorious chances, the first of which was set up by the marauding, elegant Reissner, but she could only drag the ball wide of the far post with the keeper, Laetitia Scheunemann, caught in no-mans-land. The second she blasted over the bar from a similar position. Youssef, it is worth remembering, is still only 17. She'll score many from far harder chances throughout her career.
Then, with half time looming it was heiseler again who made the difference, her footballing intelligence matching the quickness of her feet this time. from a free kick she appeared, as if out of nowhere, behind the Türkiyemspor wall. Scheunemann didn't know whether to come or go, and she stabbed the ball home past the prone keeper with the whole Türkiyemspor side still rubbing their heads, calling for an offisde that wouldn't come, wondering where the hell she had come from.
Türkiyemspor strive, Heiseler seals the deal
reissner started the half with a couple of good opportunities, a shot wide, and a superb, brave stop from Scheunemann, diving at her feet before the striker could pull the trigger. But the hosts weren't to roll over that easily , they had come out for the second half determined.
It was here that Union's masterful back four of Dina Orschmann - in an uncharacteristic left-back role - Marie Becker, Katja Orschmann and Wildner had their chance to shine. The centre-halfs particularly are a joy to watch, strong in the tackle, composed on the ball, and good in the air, they are the bedrock upon which the side is built and they dealt with Türkiyemspor's continued possession with aplomb. The full-backs covered miles, up and down the flanks, up and down.
And behind them Melanie wagner in goal radiated calm, claiming high balls with ease, taking her time with the ball at her feet, never hurrying.
Union stepped up again in the game's final phases. Zita Rurack shot wide, as did Gösdorf. And so it was with a certain inevitability that final word would go to Heiseler as she rolled the ball over the line from Latoya Bach's perfect pass, with a glorious insouciance. She wheeled away in celebration, and was taken off a moment later to applause from the stands and high-fives from her team-mates and ahug from her coach.
And she deserved every single moment of it.
With 50 points from 21 games, Union have now etsablished a three point lead over Türkiyemspor, with a superior goal difference, but their hosts do still have a game in hand. Viktoria Berlin remain top of the table with 57 points.
The coach and the captain's views on the game
"I'm very proud and impressed by the way we dominated," said a visibly elated Ailien Poese after the final whistle. "We made our mark going forward and defensively we didn't really let anything happen. So I'm really impressed with how we're implementing the things we've been talking about for the last six months."
"We are totally happy, of course," said a beaming Heiseler, the hat-trick hero. "We really wanted to get the three points and we did a lot during the week. So we are happy to have been rewarded."
Union now have five games left in the Regionalliga Nordost to play, starting on Sunday, 23 April, when they welcome Magdeburger FFC to Dörpfeldstraße. Magdeburg, currently in 5th, were responsible for Union's first defeat for the Iron Ladies in the first half of the season, so they will be keen to get a shot at redemption. Kick off is at 2pm.