Union's Women Win the Cup

Double Secured in Extra Time of Dramatic Viktoria Clash

Sun, 19. May 2024
Union's Women Win the Cup

The women of 1. FC Union Berlin sealed a league and cup double on Sunday afternoon in Mariendorf in dramatic style. Anna Höfker’s unfortunate own goal from Naika Reissner’s cross - and under Sarah Abu Sabbah’s pressure - was levelled by Aylin Yaren’s direct free kick, taking the game to extra time. Dina Orschmann forced the winner in the 107th minute as Anouk Dekker also put the ball into her own net.

1. FC Union Berlin: Wagner – Sakar, K. Orschmann (91. Niesler), Becker, Reissner (78. Bach) – Frank (114. Görsdorf), Heiseler (104. Trojahn), Moraitou – Blaschka (84. Rurack), Abu Sabbah, D. Orschmann  

FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin: Buchholz – Lux, Dekker, Höfker, Trapp – Sänger, Gerken – Aydin (65. Künzel), Yaren (110. Sarr), Ehegötz (114. Stulin) – Urbanek 

The starting XI

Ailien Poese surprised Viktoria with a change of system for this huge cup final. Mel Wagner, as ever, was in goal, but she was behind a back four of Marie Becker and Katja Orschmann, with Naika Reissner returning to the starting eleven on the left and Fatma Sakar on the right. Celine Frank held the midfield with and Athanasia Moraitou, behind Lisa Heiseler, while her favoured attacking trident saw Dina Orschmann and Anouk Blaschka supporting the goal hungry, top scorer in all the German regional leagues, Sarah Abu Sabbah, up front.

Goals: 1-0. Höfker (o.g. 77’), 1-1. Yaren, (87’), 2-1. Dekker (o.g. 105’)

Attendance: 2,500

Blaschka hits the bar, but an even contest stays goalless in the first half.

There were malevolent bruised blue and black clouds on the horizon over a pretty main stand of the sold out Mariendorfer Stadion, awash with red on one side and light blue on the other. Thunder clapped in the distance and lightning forked as Union looked to get on the front foot. It was all perfectly fitting for a cup final that would crackle with controlled aggression,  a hard fought battle between the two best sides in the city that was a superb advert for the women’s game in Berlin.

Moraitou started things off with a lovely long ball out to Reissner on the left, her deep cross finding Abu Sabbah, who cut inside and shot, but the ball took a deflection and went out, bobbling along the long, unkempt, rutted grass, strewn with dandelions.

Union’s centre-back pairing were often the only ones in their half in the opening passages of play, with the full-backs pushing as high as possible, and Moraitou and Frank occasionally dropping back to muck in.

Sakar engaged on the right, winning a free kick that Moraitou struck low, trying to catch Viktoria off guard. But Viktoria weren’t to be rolled over; they had the sting of two league losses to the league winners on their minds, and it took an excellent stop from Katja Orschmann on Kim Urbanek to stop the Viktoria striker after she’s skipped past Marie Becker.

Becker had to be alert, often the last player back, and she headed clear as Urbanek again challenged in the air as another long ball from the right came in; as Aylin Yaren also posed problems, cutting in from the right-hand side. Sakar was superb on the right, her battle with Nina Ehegötz one of the more compelling narratives of a game played on a knife’s edge.

And though Viktoria were the better side for periods of the first half, it was Blaschka who had the first big chance when her implausibly deep free kick, almost from the half way line, looped and dipped and swung past everyone, including the diving Viktoria keeper, Inga Buchholz, and crashed off the underside of the bar, bouncing down just an inch in front of the line and spinning harmlessly away.

It was a battle, neither side willing to give in, and it was one that Dina Orschmann relished, even when she got floored by a stray elbow with half an hour played. Moraitou and Urbanek were coming together with crunching repetition; Blaschka cried out when penalised for a foul on Louise trapp.

The game swung one way and back. Blaschka drew a fine stop from Buchholz having sprung Viktoria’s offside trap and hitting Dina Orschmann’s diagonal ball first time at the near post. Wagner showed off her neat footwork when taking a Becker backpass and turning before laying it off for Moraitou.

At half time they took a breath and trod off on the long walk to the changing rooms with determined looks on their faces. It was never going to be a walk in the park. Despite the flowers on the pitch.

Reissner forces the opener, but Yaren equalises

Viktoria started the second half brightly, Vanessa Lux seeing Wagner hold her cross/shot from the right, but Dina Orschmann made two typically bustling runs up the middle early on too. She flashed a header wide after 50 minutes and was then bundled over by Lux as she threw herself at a diving header shortly after that. Orschmann was seemingly everywhere. She was brought down by Yaren in the centre circle just after Becker hit the floor with a sickening thump under pressure from Urbanek. She then drew another stop from Buchholz, having capitalised on Lux’s slip outside the box. 

 The game ebbed and flowed, but it was far from glacial. Becker went through Ehegötz with a superbly timed slide a moment later, leaving enough on the player while springing another break in the single flying, bone-shuddering move. Aydin caught Reissner on the foot quarter of an hour in, leaving the Union right back writhing in agony

Union were now back in the ascendancy, inspired by Dina Orschmann, but Viktoria roared back. Leyila Aydin saw her sliding shot fly just wide after more work from Yaren saw her beat a Katja Orschmann who made up five yards on her in just a couple of steps.

Suddenly Viktoria had a moment. Urbanek raced through onto a long ball, striking it first time, and it seemed certain to be goal-bound, but Wagner pulled off a wonderful save, fingertipping the ball onto her left-hand upright. The ball bounced back into the box, but Katja Orschmann made a brilliant, last ditch challenge to get in ahead of a Yaren posed and primed to stroke the ball home.

Orschmann pounded the ground in celebration. It meant everything, her passion matched only by the opprobrium Reissner felt when she was certain she’d been fouled by substitute Trinity Künzel (Reissner was repeatedly in the wars, and was later flattened by Marlies Sänger as she took the ball up the middle) or that of Dina Orschmann when she was hauled to the ground in the box with 70 minutes played.

Again, Viktoria broke, and having got caught suddenly in no man’s land Becker made up the ground brilliantly to deny Künzel as she suddenly found herself free on goal and bursting into the eighteen yard box.

It was Reissner, with practically her last touch of the game, who caused Union’s opener. Again, she broke down the left inimitably, and hit a wicked, low cross across goal as she hit the byline. As Abu Sabbah came in at the back post with intent, Anna Höfker, lunging, was helpless as she put the ball into her own goal. It was cruel, and was given to Abu Sabbah by the announcer, but the Viktoria defender’s reaction betrayed the truth of the scenario. She looked broken as she lay face down on the turf.

Viktoria again reacted, the substitute Eunice Beckmann drawing another good stop from Wagner, who had to be sharp to leap on the ball at the second attempt before it sprung free for a looming Ehegötz.

They would deservedly equalise with 87 minutes played when Yaren hit a vicious free kick from outside the box through the crowd, beating Wagner’s dive for pace as Beckmann got in the keeper’s line of sight.

Poese, meanwhile, had made changes; Blaschka and Reissner off for Zita Rurack and Latoya Bach, respectively. The game had exploded into life, a thrilling rollercoaster, with every tackle cheered to the rafters, every block and challenge gone into as if life itself depended on it. The Union coaches were off their bench as one, their fans keeping up their relentless call and response.

Heiseler launched a free kick into the box that Dina Orschmann and Frank both went for, Frank then hit a dangerous, swinging ball into the box that Buchholz did well to punch clear.

But it wasn’t enough, and after another Moraitou free kick, launched into the box, the crowd’s hearts in their mouths, the referee blew up. It would go to extra time.

Union’s players stayed on the pitch, Viktoria’s retreated to their dug out. The tension rose ever higher.

The tie goes into extra time. Dekker puts into her own net.

Charleen Niesler had replaced Katja Orschmann at the back alongside Becker, but initially she saw more of the action at the other end, as the dynamic Bach flew up the left-hand side. But nothing was to be take for granted, and that changed almost ten minutes in when Künzel somehow tricked her way into the box and shot just over with the outside of her left boot. Wagner was beaten, it could have been decisive, but she was to rue the miss.

Abu Sabbah saw her shot tipped wide by Buchholz as she hit the ball on the turn from near the penalty spot after Dina Orschmaenn’s excellent build up, shielding the ball before guiding it into the striker’s path. Both she and Sakar thrw themselves into saving tackles out on Union’s right as the clock wound down, their legs tired and the sun appeared, possibly the last thing the players needed, drenching the whole stadium in glorious golden, but strength sapping, light.

The players fought on though, and Union again took the lead after Heiseler’s replacement, Sophie Trojahn, deftly lobbed a ball over the top for Dina Orschmann. She took a touch and finished, past a helpless Buchholz, but the final touch had come off the desperate Anouk Dekker.

By now the players were at their very limits. Poese said after the game that "Viktoria put up a very good fight” and talked of her “relief” before comparing it to the men’s side’s equally taxing win the day before.

But they fought on. Becker did brilliantly again to get in ahead of Urbanek but went down with cramp straight away. Touches were undercooked, passes went astray on both sides. They had given everything. And try as they might Viktoria couldn’t drag their way back into this most gripping of encounters again. It was all too much.

Union had won the double.