Bayer wins furiously, RB fails: Unioners celebrate Urs Fischer and a small sense of achievement

Union Berlin is parting ways with coach Urs Fischer during the international break. In the first game after the exit, the fans thanked the Swiss with emotional messages. There is a small sense of achievement on the pitch. Bayer Leverkusen’s successful streak continues.

1. FC Union Berlin – FC Augsburg 1:1 (0:1)

In the emotional game one after Urs Fischer, Union Berlin stopped the bitter series of bankruptcies in the Bundesliga. In the debut of interim coach Marco Grote and his assistant Marie-Louise Eta, the first female coach in a Bundesliga game, the Köpenick team fought to a 1-1 draw against FC Augsburg (0-1). For the Unioners, who remain in a relegation zone, it was the first point after nine league defeats in a row.

After successful coach Fischer and Union parted ways the previous week after five successful years in order to enable the ailing club to turn around, the draw gave a glimmer of hope in the fight to stay in the league. Kevin Volland (88th) let Union celebrate after Robin Knoche (58th) missed a penalty for the hosts, who had not won in 15 competitive games, according to video evidence. Ermedin Demirovic (39th, penalty kick) had previously given Augsburg the lead.

Marie-Louise Eta had an emotional debut on the sidelines.

Marie-Louise Eta had an emotional debut on the sidelines.

(Photo: IMAGO/Jan Huebner)

Despite the small sense of success, the pressure on the Union team remains high – and the program remains iron-hard. It’s only happening on Wednesday (9 p.m./DAZN and in the live ticker at in the Champions League, where Berlin’s only concern is qualification for the Europa League, against Sporting Braga, and three days later the game is against champions Bayern Munich. Before Grote and Eta began their new beginning mission against Augsburg, the Union fans thanked Fischer and his assistant coach Markus Hoffmann. “You have realized dreams that we never actually had,” was written under a likeness of the coaching team on the forest side.

After looking back, Union had to somehow find its way into the now. President Dirk Zingler warned Sky that Grote and Eta should “not be overloaded with expectations, it will be a hard road.” Although the interim coaches had to do without the injured Leonardo Bonucci and Sheraldo Becker, they nevertheless chose an offensive formation in which Kevin Volland, David Fofana and Kevin Behrens were to rotate up front. Union also immediately seemed more dangerous than in many of their previous appearances. After a cross from national player Robin Gosens, Behrens (10th) beat Augsburg’s Felix Uduokhai in the penalty area and was only denied by goalkeeper Finn Dahmen in a one-on-one. The hosts, for whom Behrens (27th) again headed just wide, played courageously in this phase.

However, bad luck quickly caught up with her again. When Gosens cleared an Augsburg attack on the edge of the penalty area with a hard tackle against Arne Engels, referee Florian Badstübner saw it as a foul and, according to the video images, also pointed to the spot. The Alte Försterei was boiling – but Demirovic easily pushed the penalty over the line at the bottom right. Shortly before the break, Fofana (45th + 4) had the chance to equalize, but Dahmen made a strong save.

Even after the break it remained a heated game in which Union invested a lot to equalize. However, Dahmen always stood in the way. First the Dane saved a penalty from Knoche after a foul on Christiopher Trimmel, then Fofana (62′) couldn’t get past the brilliant goalkeeper. The goals simply didn’t want to come in this phase – or count. Before Gosens (64th) headed the ball into the goal, the full-back was offside. Ultimately, however, Volland caused the forestry company to tremble.

Werder Bremen – Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0:3 (0:2)

Three points on the Weser, regained the lead in the table: Bayer Leverkusen gave its coach Xabi Alonso a perfect 42nd birthday. The Rhinelanders won confidently 3-0 (2-0) at Werder Bremen and maintained their invincibility aura this season with their 13th competitive win in a row. An own goal from Olivier Deman (9th) put Bayer on the road to victory early on. Jeremie Frimpong (43rd) and Alejandro Grimaldo (76th) converted Leverkusen’s superiority into further goals – and also set a record: no team has ever started with at least two goals per game in the first twelve match days.

Victory on his 42nd birthday: Xabi Alonso can be satisfied. Victory on his 42nd birthday: Xabi Alonso can be satisfied.

Victory on his 42nd birthday: Xabi Alonso can be satisfied.

(Photo: dpa)

But much more important for Alonso: With the well-deserved success, Leverkusen replaced Bayern Munich (1-0 in Cologne) after one night at the top. The Werkself’s lead is, as usual, two points. Werder, however, remained winless for the third time in a row. Coach Ole Werner’s team has eleven points after twelve games. Alonso said before the game that he expected “a good structure and a clear idea” from Bremen. Nevertheless, according to the Spaniard, “only the three points” counted on his special day. Leverkusen in particular showed a structure and clear idea on Saturday afternoon.

In front of 42,100 spectators in the sold-out Weserstadion, the Werkself once again presented themselves perfectly adjusted by Alonso and determined the pace and rhythm of the game from the start. With enormous calm and security on the ball, the front-runner never really allowed Bremen to develop and put pinpricks forward, seemingly at will. After just six minutes, the ball hit the net for the first time. After a fine through ball, Victor Boniface went around Werder keeper Michael Zetterer and pushed in, but was previously offside. Three minutes later Bayer took the lead. However, an actually harmless half-field cross from Jonas Hofmann fell at Deman’s feet, whose extremely unfortunate attempt to clear the ball ended up in his own goal. As a result, Leverkusen controlled the ball and opponents without shining.

And green and white? Bremen, who started with the same formation for the fourth time in a row, appeared willing, but they didn’t have any significant chances in the entire first half. Instead, Leverkusen followed up shortly before halftime. Frimpong made it 2-0 with a volley from a half-right position after a pass from Hincapie. The same picture initially emerged in the second round. But because Bayer primarily managed, Werder became bolder – and had bad luck. A supposed goal from national player Marvin Ducksch was not given. Romano Schmid was just offside when it came to the game (62′). Grimaldo then scored the final point. Justin Njinmah (86th) had Bremen’s consolation goal on his feet, but the substitute striker only hit the crossbar with his powerful shot.

VfL Wolfsburg – RB Leipzig 2:1 (1:0)

The next setback for the new feared opponent: RB Leipzig has stumbled over VfL Wolfsburg again and is increasingly losing touch with the top of the table. Three and a half weeks after the second-round defeat in the DFB Cup, coach Marco Rose’s team also lost 1:2 (0:1) to the Wolves in the Bundesliga – despite clear superiority. Top striker Jonas Wind (9th) scored his ninth goal of the season for the lucky VfL, for whom Brazilian Rogerio also scored for the first time (66th) – Yussuf Poulsen scored the equalizer for RB after 52 minutes. With the victory, the Wolfsburg team achieved a long-awaited liberation. After five league games without a win, coach Niko Kovac, who had recently come under increasing criticism, was finally able to celebrate again.

Jeez RB... Jeez RB...

Jeez RB…

(Photo: dpa)

“We have the chance to do it better and differently on Saturday,” RB coach Rose said before the game, alluding to the 1-0 cup defeat. But his team started off erratically. First, David Raum invited the opponent to the first good chance through Mattias Svanberg with a catastrophic pass, and a little later another mistake allowed Wolfsburg to take the lead. Attacker Wind actually only pushed a semi-dangerous header towards the RB goal. But Janis Blaswich, who was nominated for the national team for the first time last week and had made a strong save against Svanberg, slipped the ball through his fingers and behind the line.

Without the injured Timo Werner (adductor), the Leipzig team tried to find a quick answer in the 250th Bundesliga game in their club’s history – the busy Lois Openda was denied by Koen Casteels (17th) from a tight angle, as was Poulsen’s header three minutes later. With fast combination football, the now dominant guests increasingly pushed VfL into their own half, but the strong Casteels kept the score until the break despite further RB chances – also because referee Robert Hartmann justifiably took back a penalty after viewing the video images and Openda for a swallow showed the yellow card.

In the second half, Leipzig finally rewarded themselves for their offensive enthusiasm. Openda served Poulsen exemplary, who scored the equalizer on his debut as RB captain. In what was now a heated game, the Leipzig team remained on the guest pedal, but the goal was scored by the hosts, with captain Maximilian Arnold again only coming on in the final phase. Out of nowhere, VfL combined impressively forward, where Rogerio completed Wind’s preparatory work with a powerful shot into the right corner.

SC Freiburg – SV Darmstadt 98 1:1 (1:1)

Darmstadt 98 scored a surprising away point in the fight to stay in the Bundesliga. When coach Torsten Lieberknecht returned, the promoted team earned a 1-1 (1-1) draw on matchday 12 at SC Freiburg. Nevertheless, the Lilies have been waiting for a win for five games (two draws, three defeats). Mathias Honsak (18th) was successful for Darmstadt. Lucas Höler (35th) scored for the struggling Freiburg team, who have only gotten two points from the last four matches.

Lieberknecht was back on the sidelines in Freiburg. The coach missed the previous home game against FSV Mainz 05 (0-0) in order to be able to fully care for his wife Simone, who had suffered a stroke. On Monday, Lieberknecht returned to the training field after a two-week break. “My wife has been an enormous source of support for me for years. She planned to watch the game with the children on the Coach,” said Lieberknecht shortly before kick-off on Sky: “If it gets too much, she should take the dog go for a stroll.”

The 34,300 spectators in the Freiburg stadium had to make do with lean food in the early stages. Darmstadt’s goalkeeper Alexander Brunst-Zöllner hardly had anything to do on his first division debut. The 28-year-old represented the injured regular goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen. In addition to shoes, the Hessians were missing the suspended Christoph Klarer. The hosts, who will face Olympiacos Piraeus in the Europa League on Thursday, had to do without numerous injured regular players such as captain Christian Günter and Roland Sallai. In the 12th minute, Vincenzo Grifo caused some danger for the first time with a free kick.

Shortly afterwards, Darmstadt took the first chance to take the lead. Austrian Honsak’s shot was deflected by his compatriot Philipp Lienhart past SC goalkeeper Noah Atubolu. Darmstadt then defended well, but Freiburg gradually increased the pressure. Michael Gregoritsch (26th) and Ritsu Doan (27th) missed two good opportunities to equalize within a few seconds. Höler did better from close range after preparatory work by Maximilian Eggestein.

At the beginning of the second round, fighting was the trump card in Freiburg’s sleet. Both teams gave each other nothing. In the 58th minute, Darmstadt’s Christoph Zimmermann had to be carried off the pitch with a tear and Bartol Franjic came on to replace him. Marvin Mehlem had the best chance in this phase for the Lilies (65th). After 70 minutes, the Breisgauer increased the number of hits, and Darmstadt countered. A goal was in the air on both sides.

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