Grifo the Great leads Freiburg charge as hosts bamboozle Union Berlin
A Vincenzo Grifo hat-trick in double-quick time formed part of a fantastic Freiburg first half that stunned ten-man Union Berlin and lifted Christian Streich's side into second spot in the standings.
Freiburg 4-1 Union Berlin
Goals: 1-0 Grifo (pen. 4'), 2-0 Grifo 6' (assist: Gregoritsch), 3-0 Grifo (pen. 20'), 4-0 Gregoritsch 45'+1 (assist: Doan), 4-1 Michel (pen. 84')
Red card: Leite 19'
Hoping for fireworks at the Europa-Park Stadion in their team's last game of 2022, Freiburg fans were blown away by a spectacular opening that left opponents Union bewitched and bewildered. The visitors were on the wrong end of a goalscoring blitz in their last away encounter at Bayer Leverkusen and coach Urs Fischer was left pondering an unwanted case of deja vu in the Black Forest. Christian Streich started Grifo on the bench in Freiburg's loss at Leipzig on Wednesday but the 29-year-old began here and had a hat-trick inside the opening 20 minutes. A couple of well taken penalties - the latter involving the sending off of Union's Diogo Leite - bookended a breakaway goal that featured Michael Gregoritsch's third assist of the season. In the midst of Freiburg's organised chaos and in a sign that nothing was going right for the capital club, Robin Knoche sent a penalty against the foot of a post. Gregoritsch chipping home from Ritsu Doan's pass completed a phenomenal opening 45 minutes.
Their impressive home record seemingly safe - Freiburg were unbeaten in their previous nine games in their own back yard - the hosts took the sting out of the game in a far tamer second half. Christian Günter menaced on the left before testing the reflexes of Lennart Grill, relieved to pounce on the cross at the second attempt. At the other end, Union substitute Morten Thorsby - his back to goal - controlled on his thigh before spinning and volleying at the target. Mark Flekken got two hands to the shot, but there was nothing the goalkeeper could do to prevent Sven Michel reducing the arrears from the spot when this game produced yet one more penalty. The result was a harsh ending for Union following their exploits thus far in 2022/23, but when the dust settles after this game, they, like Freiburg, will feel proud of their respective feats as the curtain comes down on a memorable opening to a thus far rip-roaring campaign.
- Grifo registered his first-ever Bundesliga hat-trick.
- Freiburg were four goals up with just six shots on target as Union suffered the worst-ever first half in the club's Bundesliga history.
- There were never three penalties in the opening 20 minutes of a Bundesliga match before this game.
- Prior to this encounter, Diogo Leite had been booked just once in his 12 Bundesliga games.
- Grifo has now scored four goals and provided seven assists in 13 career matches against Union.
- Freiburg are unbeaten at home in their past ten matches (eight wins and two draws), which is the longest undefeated run yet at their new Europa-Park Stadion.
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Watch: Grifo: "It's not easy to take two penalties in one match"
Freiburg: Flekken - Kübler (Sallai 69'), Ginter, Lienhart - Sildillia, Keitel, Höfler (Eggestein 69'), Günter (c) - Doan (Jeong 76'), Gregoritsch (Petersen 69'), Grifo (Höler 77')
Unused subs: Uphoff, Schlotterbeck, Weißhaupt, Schade
Out: Ezekwem (muscular), Gulde (back), Kyereh (ill), Schmid (muscular)
Coach: Christian Streich
Union: Grill - Doekhi, Knoche, Leite - Trimmel (c), Seguin, Haberer (Pantovic 77'), Haraguchi (Thorsby 60'), Ryerson (Gießelmann 76') - Becker (Jaeckel 46'), Behrens (Michel 60')
Unused subs: Busk, Kemlein, Leweling, Jordan
Out: Khedira (suspended), Möhwald (fitness), Rönnow (thigh), Schäfer (foot)
Coach: Urs Fischer
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