Taiwo Awoniyi scored the pick of the goals as Union Berlin played out a 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 1 of the 2021/22 Bundesliga season.
Leverkusen started brightly as UEFA Euro 2020 joint top scorer Patrik Schick collected a pass from new signing Mitchel Bakker and drew a decent save from Andreas Luthe. Union's response was emphatic - Max Kruse fed Awoniyi, who drove goalwards and smashed an unstoppable 18-yard strike over the despairing dive of Lukas Hradecky. Parity was restored inside five minutes, though. Moussa Diaby took the ball off Kerim Demirbay on the right-hand side, before running inside and sending a side-footed finish into the far corner from 12 yards, despite Luthe's best efforts to keep it out. Leverkusen controlled proceedings thereafter, albeit with a Diaby shot at Luthe on the stroke of half-time their only meaningful attempt on goal.
Union showed more adventure as an attacking unit into the second half, with Genki Haraguchi firing a couple of speculative efforts off target. Substitute Levin Öztunali also earned warm applause for a driving run into the Leverkusen box, but his decision to pass instead of shoot allowed the visitors to extinguish the threat. The introduction of Olympic gold medalist Paulinho breathed new life into Bayer's play in the closing stages. The Brazilian was involved almost immediately, teeing up Diaby for a blocked shot from which Schick spooned over. Cedric Teuchert and Marvin Friedrich returned fire, before Levin Öztunali volleyed over with the last meaningful attempt of the contest to spare Gerardo Seoane a Bundesliga debut defeat as Bayer head coach.
- Awoniyi never got the chance at former club Liverpool, but he's scored seven times in 34 Bundesliga appearances for Mainz and Union. His strike is the quickest goal of the new season so far.
- Diaby was also on target at Union last season. The Frenchman put away his 10th goal in 61 Bundesliga appearances.
- Kruse scored 11 Bundesliga goals and assisted five in his first season as a Union player.
- Joel Pohjanpalo - who was on loan from Leverkusen - was Union's next best for goals on six, followed by Awoniyi's five.
- Union lost home and away to Leverkusen in 2019/20, but took four points off them last term.
- Seoane oversaw 108 Super League matches across three seasons as Young Boys head coach (W77, D20, L11).
Watch: Awoniyi: "I've waited many years for this moment!"
Union: Luthe - Friedrich, Baumgartl, Knoche - Trimmel (c) (Ryerson 82'), Haraguchi (Behrens 81'), Khedira, Gießelmann - Kruse (Teuchert 73'), Ingvartsen (Öztunali 64') - Awoniyi (Voglsammer 64')
Unused subs: Rönnow, Jaeckel, Puchacz, Griesbeck
Out: Dajaku (match fitness), Prömel (match fitness)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker - Aranguiz, Palacios (Baumgartlinger 89') - Amiri (Paulinho 76'), Demirbay, Diaby - Schick (Pohjanpalo 89')
Unused subs: Lunev, Retsos, Wendell, Sinkgraven, Weiser
Out: Alario (groin), Bellarabi (thigh), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Tapsoba (ankle), Wirtz (groin)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
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