Taiwo Awoniyi punishes Jonas Hector error as Union Berlin see off Cologne
Taiwo Awoniyi struck the only goal of the game as Union Berlin ended a poor run of results by seeing off visiting Cologne, a result that saw The Irons leap above their opponents and into provisional seventh spot in the standings.
Union 1-0 Cologne
Goals: 1-0 Awoniyi (49')
Having gone three games without a win, Urs Ficher's side were looking to reignite their push for a European finish against a side they had never previously lost to in the Bundesliga. At times on fire during an opening half of the campaign in which he netted nine times, Awoniyi was in menacing mood here, seeking to improve on his subsequent two goals since the turn of the year. The Nigerian was quickly on to Sheraldo Becker's through pass just two minutes into the contest but the forward's mis-control at a crucial moment allowed Marvin Schwäbe to make a decisive intervention. Despite being deprived of their top marksman Anthony Modeste - out with an illness - Cologne were keen to keep the pressure on the top six while maintaining a solid recent run that had seen the Billy-Goats lose just once in their previous five. Mark Uth attempted to show his teammates the way with an angled header in the 23rd minute that had goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow watching and scrambling and ultimately relieved to see the ball bounce narrowly wide. At the other end, Schwäbe saved from Becker before Rani Khedira powered a shot past the upright.
With Die Eisernen's dip in form in the second half of the season meaning they were five points worse off than at the same stage of the Hinrunde for a second-successive campaign, a lift was needed in front of a full house at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. It would arrive from an untimely error by Jonas Hector. Under little pressure, the Cologne captain made the loosest of backpasses that was pounced upon by Awoniyi who swept a first-time finish past Schwäbe and into the corner for his 12th goal of the campaign. Genki Haraguchi failed to put daylight between the teams with a shot off target later in the half while Uth was hustled out of an opportunity as Union closed ranks with time running out. To the delight of their supporters, the capital club held on and gained three big points and a morale boost they will gladly take into next weekend's derby meeting with Hertha Berlin.
- Awoniyi put his team 1-0 ahead for the seventh time this season, as many times as Robert Lewandowski and Anthony Modeste have managed.
- With 17 Bundesliga goals, Awoniyi moves ahead of Max Kruse as Union's highest outright scorer in Germany's top division.
- The Nigerian's opener was his 12th goal this season; equaling Sebastian Andersson's club record of 12 goals in a season back in 2019/20.
- This game was Union’s 40th in all competitions so far this term (W18, D10, L12). No Bundesliga team has had to contend with so many fixtures.
- Cologne have never beaten Union in the Bundesliga.
Watch: Awoniyi: “I have to keep going”
Union: Ronnow - Jaeckel, Knoche, Baumgartl - Khedira - Trimmel (c), Haraguchi (Ryerson 75'), Prömel (Möhwald 89'), Gießelmann - Becker (Voglsammer 72'), Awoniyi (Behrens 88')
Unused subs: Busk, Oczipka, Heintz, Schäfer, Michel
Out: Endo (knee), Luthe (muscular), Ujah (ill)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Cologne: Schwäbe - Ehizibue (Thielmann 46'), Kilian, Hübers (Schaub 83'), Hector (c) - Skhiri, Özcan - Ljubicic (Lemperle 68'), Uth (J. Horn 83'), Kainz (Chabot 67') - Andersson
Unused subs: Urbig, Ostrak, Olesen, Obuz
Out: Duda (suspended), T. Horn (ill), Modeste (ill), Schindler (personal reasons), Schmitz (thigh)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Watch: Knoche: “It doesn’t get any better than this”
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