Summer signing Max Kruse scored his first goal for Union Berlin to pave the way for a 4-0 win over Mainz in the Bundesliga Matchday 3 opener on Friday.
Neither side had won this season prior to kick-off, but it was the home team who began more determined to change that. Union had more possession in the early stages and after Christopher Lenz fired a warning shot over the bar, Kruse opened the scoring with a powerful back-post header from Sheraldo Becker's right-wing cross. The same duo almost combined again shortly before the half-hour mark as Becker burst into space after Alexander Hack misjudged a header, but Kruse’s first-time shot at the back post sailed over. Nico Schlotterbeck then had a close-range effort well saved by Robin Zentner as Union took a deserved lead into the break having denied their visitors a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes.
There was more of the same in the second half as the hosts asserted their authority in the midfield battles, and they quickly doubled their advantage. Captain Christopher Trimmel was afforded time and space on the right wing to pick out a cross, and his superb delivery was swept into the net by Marcus Ingvartsen. Trimmel posted his second assist of the game shortly afterwards, whipping in a free-kick from the right for Marvin Friedrich to head in from the edge of the six-yard area. Worse was to come for the visitors moments later when substitute Joel Pohjanpalo bundled the ball over the line just 35 seconds after coming off the bench. Union looked far more likely to add to the scoreline in the closing stages, with Ingvartsen seeing his free-kick deflected just off target, but by then the damage had already been done and they held on to three much-needed points.
- Kruse made his first start for Union in this game. His goal for the opener was his 75th in the Bundesliga and seventh with his head.
- Union are the fifth team Kruse has scored for in Germany's top flight, following Freiburg, Wolfsburg, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen.
- Ingvartsen netted his first goal of the season. The last time the Dane was on target was also against Mainz, in a 1-1 draw on Matchday 28 last season.
- Friedrich has now scored three Bundesliga goals (including two last season). Each of them has been a header following a set-piece delivery from Trimmel.
- Pohjanpalo scored with his first touch of the game. It was his first goal for Union and eighth in the Bundesliga overall - all of which have been as a supersub.
- This was the first time Union have scored more than three goals in a single Bundesliga game.
Watch: Kruse: "My personal goal is to keep Union Berlin in the league"
Union: Luthe - Friedrich, Knoche, Schlotterbeck - Trimmel (c) (Ryerson 69'), Prömel, Andrich (Griesbeck 82'), Lenz – Becker (Bülter 64'), Ingvartsen (Endo 82') - Kruse (Pohjanpalo 64')
Unused subs: Karius, Gießelmann, Awoniyi, Teuchert
Out: Gentner (calf), Ujah (knee)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Mainz: Zentner – Mwene (Martin 71'), St. Juste, Hack, Brosinski – Latza (c), Kunde (Nebel 60') – Onisiwo, Boetius, Quaison (Killian 71') - Mateta (Burkardt 60')
Unused subs: Dahmen, Öztunali, Tauer, Barreiro, Abass
Out: Ji (knee), Niakhate (suspended)
Coach: Jan-Moritz Lichte
Watch: Pohjanpalo: "The best way to start!"