Sheraldo Becker brace puts Union Berlin on the brink of UEFA Champions League qualification as Freiburg falter


Union Berlin are a step closer to securing a top-four finish after a Sheraldo Becker double, Kevin Behrens's early strike and a late Aissa Laidouni goal earned Urs Fischer's side a crucial victory against fellow challengers Freiburg.

Union Berlin 4-2 Freiburg
Goals: 1-0 Behrens 5' (assist: Becker), 2-0 Becker 36' (assist: Knoche), 3-0 Becker 38' (assist: Knoche), 3-1 Gulde 56' (assist: Grifo), 3-2 Grifo (pen. 70'), 4-2 Laidouni 80' (assist: Becker)

The setting for this race for a Champions League place could not have been more perfect. Berlin was resplendent in afternoon sunshine with the Stadion An der Alten Försterei packed to capacity. The home fans didn't have long to wait for a quick injection of joy. After being perfectly teed up by Becker, Behrens took a couple of touches inside the area before rifling past Mark Flekken for 1-0 on five minutes. Back-to-back losses against RB Leipzig in the DFB Cup and the Bundesliga had dented Freiburg's confidence going into this game. They looked to lift themselves here, with efforts from Lukas Kübler and Vincenzo Grifo keeping goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow on his toes. Yet Union boast a formidable home record of late and they showed why when doubling their advantage. The twinkle-toed Becker danced his way forward before playing a neat one-two with Robin Knoche and finishing between Flekken's legs. The visiting custodian's problems worsened moments later when Knoche again supplied Becker, whose near-post bullet again evaded the Freiburg custodian.

Grifo hit a quick-fire hat-trick in a 4-1 win for Freiburg when these teams last met earlier this season. After the 30-year-old's corner was headed in by Manuel Gulde after the restart here, the visiting side had hope. It was game on soon afterwards with Danilho Doekhi's foul on Roland Sallai resulting in a Freiburg penalty, which Grifo netted with the coolest of Panenkas. The match now ebbing and flowing, Becker and Sallai exchanged chances at either end before Union burst away on a match-sealing counter-attack. Becker bounding down the right unselfishly rolled across for the waiting Laidouni to stroke home. Matthias Ginter sent an effort off the crossbar while seeing his follow-up cleared off the line by Morten Thorsby as Christian Streich's side kept up the pressure. However, Union weren't to be denied, meaning the Champions League promised land is now within touching distance for Die Eisernen.

Match stats

  • Becker was involved in all four goals for Union, scoring and assisting twice.
  • Behrens netted his eighth Bundesliga goal in 2022/23. All of the forward's goals have been scored from Matchday 12 on this season.
  • Becker scored his 10th and 11th goals of the campaign. In his previous three Bundesliga seasons, the 28-year-old only scored a combined seven goals.
  • It was also the Dutch striker's second Bundesliga brace.
  • Laidouni scored his first Bundesliga goal after 12 games.
  • Union are on a club-record run of 22 Bundesliga home games without defeat (W14, D8). The Berliners also set new club records for wins (17) and points (59) in a single Bundesliga campaign.

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Union: Ronnow - Doekhi, Knoche, Leite - Trimmel, Schäfer (Thorsby 63'), Khedira, Haberer (Laidouni 71'), Roussillon (Gießelmann 86') - Behrens (Jordan 63'), Becker (Leweling 86')
Unused subs: Grill, Jaeckel, Juranovic, Michel
Out: -
Coach: Urs Fischer

Freiburg: Flekken - Kübler (Sallai 33'), Ginter, Gulde - Sildilla (Schmidt 53'), Keitel (Gregoritsch 53'), Höfler, Günter (c) (Weißhaupt 46') - Doan, Grifo (Jeong 82') - Höler
Unused subs: Atubolu, Ezekwem, Eggestein, Petersen
Out: Kyereh (cruciate ligament), Lienhart (illness)
Coach: Christian Streich