Europe: Champions League
⚽ S. Becker (30), ⚽ S. Becker (37)
⚽ S. Niakate (41), ⚽ Bruma (51), ⚽ Castro (90)
It was a case of familiar unfamiliarity for Union Berlin tonight as they faced Portugal’s SC Braga. A first home Champions League fixture but not as they knew it – the Olympiastadion of city rival’s Hertha hosting the momentous occasion. A record-breaking 74,000 Eiserners painted the ground red, but Castro’s 94th minute goal would inflict a 3-2 comeback defeat on the Kopenick-based club.
In the crackling atmosphere, Fischer’s side started on the front foot immediately. Inside four minutes the ball was nestling in the Braga net. Robin Gosens looked to have written his name in the club history books when he rounded Matheus. Becker’s offside position in the same attack would chalk the goal out.
The chance of the half fell to Union in the following sequence when Braga’s possession-based style broke down. Behrens pounced on Saatci’s loose pass, but the striker ought to have fed Becker rather than go it alone. But on the half hour Eisern ecstasy took liftoff – Kral’s ball put Becker in space on the right and he threaded Matheus’ legs.
Double delight ensued for Union and Becker when he made it 2-0 on 37 minutes. Doekhi’s direct ball broken by the head of Tousart. The Surinamese skipper’s ice cool finish into the top left corner made to look routine. Braga’s Niakate would half the deficit four minutes from the interval – the Malian defender capitalising on Horta’s initial blocked shot.
The Portuguese club restored parity directly after the restart with Bruma’s wonderous effort. A Leipzig player in his time, he connected sweetly from 18 yards out. Ronnow stood no chance as the ball curled and dipped inside his left upright. The visitor’s control prompted Fischer to call upon Volland and Laidouni.
Matheus would deny Volland in the final fifteen minutes. The German’s header went straight down the throat of the Brazilian goaltender. Substitute Aaronson had an aerial attempt of his own soon after – one he out to have done better with. But it would be heartbreak at the death for Fischer and Union. Bruma turned provider in the fourth minute of injury time. Andre Castro fizzing home to complete the comeback in dramatic fashion and seal a 3-2 win. Union’s hopes of a first Champions League point go on despite their heroic efforts.