Union Berlin played for more than 45 minutes with ten men as they battled to a 1-1 home draw with Mainz on Wednesday to keep ahead of their opponents just above the Bundesliga's relegation zone.
A year to the day they were promoted to the Bundesliga for the very first time, Union were celebrating off the pitch; on it, they were hoping not only to enjoy a first goal since the restart, but also a marked improvement on their 4-0 derby defeat to Hertha last time out. That ambition took a major blow when Ridle Baku carefully steered a low shot home to give Mainz an early lead. Having lost 5-0 at home to RB Leipzig at the weekend, it was a major boost for Achim Beierlorzer's side, who started the game three points behind their hosts. The 05ers kept a firm grip on Sebastian Andersson, who had scored twice in Die Eisernen's 3-2 win in Mainz earlier in the season, but could not contain another Scandinavian: Dane Marcus Ingvartsen steering a free-kick beyond a wrong-footed Florian Müller to equalise just after the half-hour mark.
The dismissal of Robert Andrich for a second bookable offence just before half-time put Union on the back foot again. Andersson did bring a comfortable save from Müller following the interval, but Jean-Philippe Mateta provided far more clear and present danger at the opposite end, rampaging away from the Union back line only to lift the ball over Rafal Gikiewicz and the crossbar. Only a timely interception from Christopher Trimmel prevented Mateta bearing down on goal again; at the opposite end, Jeffrey Bruma was handily placed to block a close-range Marvin Friedrich header that might have otherwise severely troubled Müller. Gikiewicz came to Union's rescue in the closing stages, reacting smartly when Jean-Paul Boëtius' cross ricocheted goalwards and the Polish goalkeeper was well positioned to gather Mateta's backheel as Urs Fischer's side scrambled to a point. They would even have had all three but for Müller, who instinctively shot up an arm to block Andersson's point-blank flick on a Trimmel free-kick with just seconds remaining.
- Baku ended a 40-game wait for a goal — he had last found the net in May 2018. It was the third strike of his Bundesliga career, and the first with his left foot.
- Ingvartsen's equaliser was Union's first goal since the Bundesliga restart, it was also Union's first-ever top-flight goal from a direct free-kick.
- Mainz enjoyed over 60 per cent possession in the second half.
- Mainz have lost just two of their last eight in the league (W2, D4, L2).
- Mainz have lost just twice, including earlier this season, in the clubs' eight meetings (W4, D2).
Union: Gikiewicz - Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Subotic - Trimmel (c), Gentner, Andrich, Ryerson - Ingvartsen (Mees 74'), Bülter (Prömel 65') - Andersson
Unused Subs: Nicolas, Polter, Ujah, Reichel, Malli, Hübner, Schmiedebach
Out: Becker (thigh), Gogia (match fitness), Lenz (muscular)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Mainz: Müller - Hack, Bruma, Niakhate - Baku, Barreiro, Kunde (Latza 82') - Boetius - Quaison (Ji 73'), Mateta (Szalai 82'), Awoniyi (Onisiwo 62')
Unused subs: Dahmen, Martin, Öztunali, Brosinski, Fernandes
Out: Zentner (knee)
Coach: Achim Beierlorzer