Familiar face: former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham denied Union Berlin a famous result at the home of Real Madrid. - © Getty Images
Familiar face: former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham denied Union Berlin a famous result at the home of Real Madrid. - © Getty Images

Union Berlin suffer last-gasp UEFA Champions League debut heartache as Jude Bellingham seals Real Madrid win


UEFA Champions League debutants Union Berlin's hopes of taking a point off record winners Real Madrid were dashed by an injury-time goal from Jude Bellingham.

Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin 
Goals: 1-0
Bellingham 90'+4 

On what was a momentous, historical night for the visitors at the home of the record tournament winners, Union largely frustrated their prestigious hosts in the first half. A frantic start saw Lucas Tousart booked in the opening minute for a foul on living footballing legend Luka Modrić while home forward Joselu flashed a header off target when well placed. Yet, backed by a vociferous visiting support, the Berliners also had their moments. Kevin Behrens nodded over from Josip Juranović's centre as Urs Fischer's men settled into their opulent surroundings. Largely reduced to long-range efforts for a time, Madrid's struggles were reflected by an increasingly tetchy crowd as the half wore on.    

Having won their previous five group stage games at home, the hosts were always going to ratchet up the pressure after the break and so it proved. Frederik Rønnow saved from Rodrygo while the same player volleyed against the Union woodwork just seconds later. Now in full flow, Carlo Ancelotti's side produced another fine chance via Rodrygo's cross from the left which was met by Joselu's header. Rønnow came to Union's rescue by tipping the ball against the woodwork. Despite their dominance, the men in white were still susceptible to The Irons' counter-thrust game and were almost caught out when Sheraldo Becker's centre just evaded substitute Brenden Aaronson. The action swinging back the other way, Antonio Rüdiger and Joselu spurned further Real chances. As the game drifted into injury time, the Bundesliga side looked to have done enough. However, former Borussia Dortmund man Bellingham popped up at the death to break Union hearts with an opportunistic strike. 

Watch: Find out all about Champions League debutants Union

Match stats

  • Union are the 15th German team to play in the Champions League groups (more than any other nation). 
  • By contrast, record winners Real have contested a tournament-leading 305 Champions League games.
  • Leonardo Bonucci was a 2014/15 Champions League runner-up with former club Juventus. He has now made 85 appearances in the competition, including six against Real (W1, D2, L3).
  • Juranovic, Kevin Volland and Robin Gosens are the only other Union players with previous Champions League experience.
  • Bellingham won four of six meetings with Union as a Dortmund player. This Matchday 1 encounter saw the England international score his first goal against the capital club.
  • David Alaba, Joselu, Toni Kroos and Rüdiger are former Bundesliga players, like Bellingham.


Real: Kepa - Vázquez, Rüdiger, Nacho (c) (Fran García 73'), Alaba - Modrić (Brahim Díaz 80'), Tchouameni (Valverde 66'), Camavinga (Kroos 65') - Bellingham - Joselu, Rodrygo
Unused subs: Lunin, Cañizares, Ceballos, Mendy, Gonzalo, Tobias
Out: Courtois (knee), Güler (knee), Militao (knee), Vinicius (thigh)
Carlo Ancelotti 

Union: Rønnow - Doekhi, Bonucci (Jaeckel 80'), Leite - Kral - Juranovic, Laidouni (Aaronson 66'), Tousart (Kemlein 83'), Gosens - Becker (c) (Fofana 80'), Behrens (Volland 66')
Unused subs: Schwolow, Stein, Roussillon, Trimmel
Haberer (suspended), Khedira (calf), Knoche (muscular), Schäfer (foot)
Urs Fischer

As it happened!

1 - 0

(0 - 0)

Union Berlin
Champions League
Group C, Matchday 1
Group C, Matchday 1 Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
+ 5

FULL TIME! Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin

Union were 60 seconds from holding the record European champions to a draw - but what an effort from the debutants. This day will never be forgotten. The performance will give them real hope they can get out of this group.
+ 4

Heartbreak for Union!

Bellingham delivers at the last for Real, firing in following a scramble in the Union box.
+ 4

Time added on

Union are FIVE minutes from a quite remarkable result on their Champions League debut...

Saved again!

Rønnow makes himself big to thwart Rodrygo at his near post. The Dane is playing a blinder - they all are!

Kemlein joins the action

The 19-year-old midfielder is on for only his third Union appearance, having been promoted to the senior team from the U19s over the summer.

What a chance!

Bellingham with a cross from deep... Joselu connects in the box on the volley... wide!

Leonardo the leader!

Bonucci has been superb on his Union debut. Hard to believe he's 36! The hard-running Becker also makes way. Jaeckel and Fofana are on to get this over the line...

Chance not taken

Yet another Joselu header, but this one is straight into a teammate. Is it going to be one of those nights for the hosts? Let's hope so!

Blushes spared!

Rønnow completely misses a corner, but Rüdiger - who perhaps doesn't expect it - can't direct the ball on target. The goal was gaping, too!



No way past Rønnow!

Modrić tries his luck with a rising drive that the back-tracking Rønnow does well to claw over his crossbar. Real are trying everything!

Fresh legs

Fischer responds to that double Real change by throwing on Aaronson in midfield and Volland up top. They'll certainly give Real something different to think about in transition.

Super Fred!

Rønnow with another superb save, perhaps his best yet, as he tips Joselu's towering header onto the upright.

Union hustle

Real continue to circulate the ball, but Union's press is keeping them at arm's length. Fischer really has got his game plan spot on!

Strong stop!

Camavinga feeds Joselu for a shot the diving Rønnow is able to beat away. Real just keep coming...

Mounting pressure

Union have some defending to do as Bonucci gets in the way to prevent Rodrygo from going through. The visitors have a storm to ride...


Rodrygo goes past Leite and takes aim. Rønnow doesn't know a great deal about it, but does really well to block with his just. The ball's returned with interest, and this time it's the woodwork that thwarts Rodrygo. The game's bet chance by a mile!


Behrens does really well to shield the ball before laying it off for Gosens, who drives into the side netting. No fear from Union.

Second half!

No changes from either side in the Spanish capital. Union had 29 percent possession in the first half - can they maintain intensity levels?
+ 1

Half-time! Real Madrid 0-0 Union

Stubborn, spirited and high on intensity, Union have been superb on their Champions League debut. Real have created chances, but have generally struggled to find the spaces when in possession, and have had to be on full alert when the Berliners have attempted to turn defence into attack. More of the same from Fischer's charges will do very nicely indeed.
+ 1


Alaba steals in ahead of Bonucci at the near post, but flicks his header from a corner wide of the target.

Added time

Two added minutes are shown on the fourth official's electronic board. It looks like Král will at least try to make it to the half-time whistle...

Král concern

The Union midfielder needs treatment for that earlier challlenge from Tchouaméni that produced Real's first caution. He may have to come off...

Right idea

Behrens presses high and retrieves the ball. He immediately looks for the pace of Becker, but overcooks his attempted pass through to Kepa.

Frustrations creeping in

Nacho with a speculative effort from downtown. This is not going Real's way, despite all their possession.


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Midfield battle ground

Union are getting in the faces of the Real players. They're certainly not overawed by the occasion.


Tchouameni takes possession outside the box, before blazing comfortably over the Union goal. The Bundesliga club will be happy to see efforts like that all day long.

Over from Joselu!

The former, Frankurt, Hoffenheim and Hannover striker gets up to a Modrić corner, but can't keep his header down. He's making a real nuisance of himself from set-pieces...

Thin ice

Král is penalised twice in quick succession for fouls on Bellingham. The Union man would do well to rein it in, especially with Tousart already on a booking so early in the game.

Talking tactics

Real are dictating the pace of the game, with Union happy to use their counter-attacking wiles at any available opportunity.


Bellingham miscues from range, but that's a reminder of his confidence levels right now.


Union giving as good as they get as Behrens heads a Juranovic cross off target. All four of his Bundesliga goals so far this season have been headers...


Joselu escapes the attentions of the Union defence to head a Vázquez cross against Doekhi and wide. Bellingham goes for a cheeky back-heel that catches everyone off guard following the corner, but Union survive.

Rønnow called on

Now it's Real's turn to attack as Joselu gets his head to Bellingham's cross from deep, forcing Rønnow into the first save of the contest. Union almost undone by a made-in-the-Bundesliga moment.

Lively start

Tousart is booked inside the opening 60 seconds for a challenge on Modrić. Union get the resultant free-kick clear and work an opening of their own, with Rüdiger getting in the way of a Behrens effort on goal.

Under way in Madrid!

Union's first-ever Champions League match. This is going to be special, whatever happens.

Also in Group C

Portugal's Braga host defending Serie A champions Napoli later today. Union entertain Braga in a fortnight's time, before welcoming Napoli to the German capital on Matchday 3.

Watch: The moment Union secured Champions League qualification

Massive appreciation for the fans on the final day of last season, as there is already on show in Madrid today - and, in fact, every day!

Champions League experience

Robin Gosens was a runner-up last season with Inter and Josip Juranovic went up against Real in the group stage with Celtic. Kevin Volland has played in the competition for Leverkusen and Monaco, while Leonardo Bonucci reached the final in Juventus colours back in 2014/15. As we all know, this Real team is chock-full of UCL experience and past winners, including Messrs Kroos and Alaba, who also lifted the trophy at Bayern.

Bellingham warning

Fischer has warned of the threat posed by Bellingham, who has made such a confident start to his Real career. The ex-Dortmund midfielder has five goals and one assist in five appearances for his new employers. "He likes to play one-on-one," the Union coach observed. "He's very confident on the ball. I don't think we can stop him with just one player; we'll have to be compact as a team."

More on those teams

Urs Fischer turns to the experience of Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, who makes his Union debut. Josip Juranovic and Lucas Tousart are the other changes from the 2-1 loss to Wolfsburg. Juranovic goes up against countryman Luka Modrić. Jude Bellingham, Antonio Rüdiger, David Alaba and Joselu are the ex-Bundesliga stars in the side, with Toni Kroos on the bench for former Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti's team.

Union starting line-up

Rønnow - Doekhi, Bonucci, Leite - Kral - Juranovic, Laidouni, Tousart, Gosens - Becker (c), Behrens

Union subs

Schwolow, Stein, Jaeckel, Aaronson, Volland, Fofana, Roussillon, Trimmel, Kemlein

Real starting line-up

Kepa - Vázquez, Rüdiger, Nacho (c), Alaba - Modrić, Tchouameni, Camavinga - Bellingham - Joselu, Rodrygo

Real subs

Lunin, Cañizares, Kroos, Valverde, Ceballos, Fran García, Brahim Díaz, Mendy, Gonzalo, Tobias

"Positive experience"

Union's captain Christopher Trimmel said that, "Every player has the dream of playing against the best teams," when the Austrian spoke at yesterday's pre-match press conference. The 36-year-old added, "I hope we return home after this night with a very positive experience and one we can tell our grandchildren about."

Glorious Union goals

Check out the best goals of Union's Bundesliga season so far!

"Play with intensity"

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was asked about what he expects from Union Berlin. "They're a new team in the Champions League but the fact they're here means they've done very well," the former Bayern Munich tactician explained. "They're well organised defensively, they're solid and they play with intensity."

Solid support

The Irons will be backed by close to 4,000 travelling supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu in today's Group C encounter. Listen out for plenty of Union noise from the away end!

Fischer calls for courage

Union's boss has been speaking ahead of this evening's mammoth Champions League game for the visitors. "For us, it will be a matter of working well against the ball while remaining courageous going forward," the tactician explained. "You also need possession against an opponent such as [Real]. If you just it back, it will be difficult."

Bonucci experience

Union's summer signing Leonardo Bonucci is no stranger to having faced Real Madrid, with the Italy EURO 2020 winner playing five games against the La Liga team in previous Champions League games with former side Juventus.

Real's Bundesliga memories

Real Madrid also faced Bundesliga opposition in last season's group stage. RB Leipzig put the Spanish giants to the sword by 3-2 on Matchday 5 of the 2022/23 competition, with Carlo Ancelotti's men winning the earlier reverse fixture 2-0.

Familiar face

Union will of course recognise the man at the heart of this Real Madrid team: Jude Bellingham. The England midfielder made 132 appearances in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund, scoring 24 goals and providing 25 assists. The 20-year-old faced Union six times with BVB, losing out twice to Real's opponents on Wednesday.

Opening day delight

The last time Union featured in a Matchday 1 fixture was in the Bundesliga in August, and Urs Fischer's side played a blinder, downing Mainz by 4-1. What chance another super showing from Die Eisernen on opening night in the Champions League?

Telling numbers

This will be Union's 23rd game in UEFA competition. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are playing in the Champions League group stage for the 27th season in a row.

Union Berlin lowdown

Find out all you need to know about the team they call The Irons with our handy video guide.

Welcome along !

It's only Union Berlin's UEFA Champions League debut against the tournament's record winners Real Madrid! Settle in as we bring you all the latest ahead of Wednesday's Group C extravaganza.

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