Taiwo Awoniyi strikes late as Union Berlin defeat Bochum to seal UEFA Europa League spot and fifth-place finish


A late winner from Taiwo Awoniyi was enough to see Union Berlin edge past Bochum in a five-goal thriller to seal a top-five finish and a place in next season's UEFA Europa League.

Union Berlin 3-2 Bochum
Goals: 1-0 Prömel 5’ (assist: Haraguchi), 2-0 Awoniyi (pen. 25’), 2-1 Zoller 55’ (assist: Soares), 2-2 Löwen 79’ (assist: Asano), 3-2 Awoniyi (88’)

Union started the day in sixth but knew if results went their way on the final day they would qualify for the more illustrious UEFA Europa League group stage rather than the UEFA Conference League. Inside two minutes Sheraldo Becker had raced in behind the Bochum defence, but Michael Esser was swiftly off his line to make a well-judged intervention. Three minutes later it was Genki Haraguchi who charged down the right, and his cross on the run found the unmarked Grischa Prömel. The midfielder - who is returning to Hoffenheim next season - adjusted well to steer a header into the far corner. Awoniyi and Haraguchi had further half-chances as the home side dominated before Sven Michel - on for the injured Becker - had a shot blocked by the hand of Robert Tesche. Union were awarded a penalty after a VAR review, and Awoniyi's spot-kick had enough power to beat Esser. Going into half-time amid a party atmosphere in the capital, Union looked set to climb the table again.

Mid-table Bochum - understrength and outplayed - looked completely out of the game. They showed impressive character, though, and Simon Zoller responded on 55 minutes with a well-taken header of his own after being picked out by Danilo Soares. Awoniyi could have made it 3-1 midway through the second half after being set up by substitute Andreas Voglsammer, but Esser did well to deny him from close range. Andras Schäfer, another player on from the bench, drew another save from the Bochum keeper as Union recovered strongly after conceding. They were made to pay for not putting the game to bed, however, when Eduard Löwen curled home after good work from Takuma Asano. Union immediately sent on Levin Öztunali and Kevin Behrens in a bid to salvage their top-five hopes, with the former forcing Esser into another good stop. As he has so often done this season, though, Awoniyi was on hand to steal the headlines. With three minutes to go he pounced on a loose ball, calmly played his way into the area and slotted home left-footed to send the Union fans wild.

Match stats

  • After finishing seventh to qualify for the UEFA Conference League last season, Union's new highest-ever placing in the Bundesliga sees them qualify for the UEFA Europa League for the first time.
  • Former Liverpool forward Awoniyi finished as Union's leading scorer with a career-best 15 league goals.
  • Prömel got his eighth league goal of the season, with four of them coming in his last six games for the club.
  • Zoller scored his third goal of the campaign - and a first since he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in September 2021 that kept him out until March of this year.
  • On loan from Hertha Berlin, Löwen netted just his second goal of the season on his return to the capital.
  • Bochum's nine-goal top scorer Sebastian Polter registered 46 goals in 106 competitive appearances for Union between 2017 and 2020.

Watch: Awoniyi: "We never give up"


Union: Luthe - Ryerson (Öztunali 82'), Knoche, Jaeckel - Khedira (Behrens 83') - Trimmel (c), Haraguchi (Schäfer 66'), Prömel, Oczipka - Becker (Michel 19') (Voglsammer HT), Awoniyi
Unused subs: Busk, Ujah, Gießelmann, Möhwald
Out: Baumgartl (ill), Dehl (ill), Heintz (ankle), Ronnow (groin)
Coach: Urs Fischer

Bochum: Esser - Gamboa, Losilla (c), Bella-Kotchap (Holtmann 65') - Bockhorn, Osterhage, Tesche (Löwen HT), Soares - Asano (Bonga 80') - Polter, Zoller
Unused subs: Grave, Hartwig
Out: Antwi-Adjei (cold), Pantovic (heel), Stafylidis (knee)
Coach: Thomas Reis