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14th matchday: Famous Bjelica debut: Union Berlin ends winless streak

14th matchday: Famous Bjelica debut: Union Berlin ends winless streak

The iron courage is back. 1. FC Union plays freely under new coach Nenad Bjelica. The reward: After 16 games and 105 days, the Berliners managed another victory.

Union Berlin ended its dramatic winless streak on coach Nenad Bjelica’s Bundesliga debut.

After 16 games without any success, the Iron team beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 (1-0) and sent a strong signal in the relegation battle of the Bundesliga with a courageous performance.

Kevin Volland (23rd minute) with a hand penalty, Benedict Hollerbach (50th) and Mikkel Kaufmann (75th) with their first Union goals scored the goals for the dominant hosts in the sold-out stadium at the Alte Försterei with 22,012 spectators. Alassane Pléa (77th) could only shorten the score for Borussia.

Good mood for the real duel

Under new coach Bjelica, Union left last place in the Bundesliga, at least for one night. The people of Köpenick could hardly have celebrated a better mood for the last Champions League game on Tuesday against the great Real Madrid.

The Gladbachers were unable to carry the momentum from their cup win against VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday and remained winless in their fourth league away game in a row. Six points ahead of Union is not a big cushion.

Constantly put pressure on, play offensively. These were Bjelica’s instructions to his team. After three and a half months of maximum sadness, that sounded like almost foolhardy wishful thinking. But, lo and behold. After 120 cup minutes, Gladbach played along dutifully and tiredly, and the Eisernen showed by far their best first half since those August days, when Union were at the top of the table after two match days under long-term coach Urs Fischer.

First chances thanks to Hollerbach

Hollerbach worked diligently on his image as the first big winner of the coaching change. Under Fischer he was a permanent reservist, now he was a cheeky driver. In his second start in the league, after dribbling (11th/19th), he couldn’t find a taker with his crosses. The chance was even better for Kevin Behrens (20th), but the center forward lofted the ball over the goal.

After a cross from Robin Gosens, Volland Luca Netz headed the ball from behind onto his outstretched arm. Volland safely converted the penalty to take the lead – the first for Union in the Alte Försterei since that 4-1 win against Mainz 105 days ago. The score was good for the team. Borussia was allowed practically nothing. Gosens (36th) with a header and Jérôme Roussillon (45th + 3) with a direct shot could have increased.

Bjelica cheers along

20 seconds had been played in the second half when Union launched the first counterattack. The toe of Gladbach goalkeeper Moritz Nicolas prevented the second Union goal when Volland finished. Hollerbach then did that with a tight low shot from the second row. The cheering images documented the huge relief. Right in the middle of the crowd of players: Coach Bjelica. Another summer transfer came in Kaufmann, who was unable to make any impact under Fischer. Pléa’s goal didn’t change anything about the first Union party since August.

Source: Stern

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