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14.08.2021Bundesliga

1-1 at Union – Werkself share points for starters

Bayer 04 claimed a point away to Union Berlin in a 1-1 draw at the start of the new Bundesliga campaign. Taiwo Awoniyi gave the Berliners the lead early on (7'), Moussa Diaby levelled five minutes later at the end of an excellent solo run to reward the Werkself for an impressive performance in the first half.
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Head coach Gerardo Seoane made three changes to his starting line-up compared with last week's cup game at Lokomotive Leipzig. Jonathan Tah, suspended for the cup tie, replaced Panos Retsos in central defence, Mitchel Bakker came in for his fellow Dutch countryman Daley Sinkgraven on the left side of the back four. Exequiel Palacios played in place of Karim Bellarabi (thigh injury) with the Argentinian alongside Charles Aránguiz in defensive midfield. Kerem Demirbay moved forward to play as a number 10. At the An der Alten Försterei Stadium, in addition to Bellarabi, Bayer 04 were without the two long-term injuries Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Edmond Tapsoba as well as Florian Wirtz (groin problem) and Lucas Alario (muscle injury).

"It was a very intensive encounter. We needed ten minutes to get into the game then we did very well in challenges. The results wasn't what we wanted but we did a lot of good things in this game," said Jonathan Tah after the final whistle.

"You know what you're up against with Union Berlin," said Werkself coach Gerardo Seoane ahead of the game. And that means above all: an incredible record at home. The Eisernen have gone 16 games in succession without defeat on their own turf. Despite that, the first action came from the visitors with Patrik Schick testing Andreas Luthe after 60 seconds but the Union keeper was not troubled by the low shot from the Czech from 16 yards out. But shortly after that, Union took the lead having just been unable to make use of Charles Aránguiz losing the ball in the penalty area (6'): Max Kruse then put Awoniyi through, he beat Jeremie Frimpong and Odilon Kossounou on the edge of the box and then fired a powerful shot under the bar – 1-0 (7').

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Diaby levels at pace

However, the Werkself refused to be cowed and Bayer 04 immediately set about getting back on equal terms. A header from Schick went just over the Berlin bar (10'). Shortly after that, the equaliser came when Kerem Demirbay won the ball: Moussa Diaby, picked out by Frimpong, went on a pacy solo run, shaking off Robin Knoche and Genki Haraguchi on the edge of the box and then hitting the ball into the far corner to level at 1-1 (12'). Luthe managed to get a hand to the ball but was unable to keep out the well-placed shot. That was a prompt response indeed. And the Werkself remained on the front foot with the busy Nadiem Amiri getting his head to a fine cross from the right by Frimpong but he was unable to make a proper connection (19'). From a Demirbay corner, Bakker was unable to control the ball in the box (22').

on top in all areas

80 per cent possession, 63 per cent of challenges won, six shots on goal to two and a pass completion rate of 92 per cent – the Werkself, confident on the ball and happy to exchange passes, produced an impressive performance in the first 30 minutes in spite of going behind early on. Schick wanted to get on the end of a Diaby cross for a header into the far corner but he missed the target by a distance (36'). The last seconds before half-time brought shooting practice for Leverkusen but all their attempts were blocked. Before that, Diaby completed another solo run with a low shot but Luthe made an impressive save to keep the ball out of the far corner of his net (45+ 1'). The Werkself had the edge going into the break with the score at 1-1.

intensive challenges

After the break, the Berliners wanted to be more physical and Frimpong experienced that with a brusque challenge from Niko Gießelmann that left the Werkself right-back on the deck (46'). It was impressive the way the very alert Mitchel Bakker was able to cut off Haraguchi in the penalty area after a misplaced pass from Palacios (55'). The match became disjointed with both teams engrossed in intensive challenges. Substitute Levin Öztunali was stopped just in time on 68 minutes. At the other end, Schick missed a cross from Diaby that did cause Luthe slight problems (72'). Gerardo Seoane made his first change bringing on Olympic gold medal winner Paulinho for Amiri (76'). A volley from Demirbay flew a yard wide of the top corner (77').

Hradecky tested late on

Knoche blocked a Diaby effort with his head and a powerful follow-up shot from Schick went just over the bar (78'). Bayer 04 upped the work rate in the closing stages, unwilling to accept the draw. Paulinho was put off by Öztunali in a promising position (83'). From a counter-attack by Union, Lukas Hradecky made a brilliant save to deny Cedric Teuchert (85') and the Bayer 04 keeper also held onto the header by Marvin Friedrich (86') from a corner. Seoane made two more changes bringing on Julian Baumgartlinger and Joel Pohjanpalo for Palacios and Schick (89'). The Werkself were fortunate that a volley from Öztunali just missed the target (90'). The final whistle soon followed.

The second Bundesliga matchday sees Bayer 04 back in action on Saturday, 21 August. The Werkself entertain Borussia Mönchengladbach at the BayArena in the top game at 18.30 CEST.

Match stats:

FC Union Berlin: Luthe – Friedrich, Knoche, Baumgartl – Trimmel (Ryarson 81’), Haraguchi (Behrens 81’), R. Khedira, Ingvartsen (Öztunali 63’), Gießelmann – Awoniyi (Voglsammer 63’), Kruse (Teuchert 73’)

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker – Aránguiz, Palacios (Baumgartlinger 89’) – Diaby, Demirbay, Amiri (Paulinho 76’) – Schick (Pohjanpalo 89’)

Goals: 1-0 Awoniyi (7’), 1-1 Diaby (12’)

Referee: Reichel (Stuttgart)

Booked: Diaby

Attendance: 11,006

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