Former Bundesliga man Joselu bagged brace as Real Madrid edged Union Berlin 3-2. - © Maja Hitij
Former Bundesliga man Joselu bagged brace as Real Madrid edged Union Berlin 3-2. - © Maja Hitij

Brave Union Berlin edged by Real Madrid


Union Berlin's European adventure is over after they were edged 3-2 by Real Madrid at the Olympiastadion.

Union Berlin 2-3 Real Madrid
Goals: 1-0 Volland 45'+1, 1-1 Joselu 61' (assist: Rodrygo), 1-2 Joselu 72' (assist: García), 2-2 Král 85' (assist: Laïdouni), 2-3 Ceballos 89' (assist: Bellingham)

Union started brightly in front of a vociferous Olympiastadion - normally the home of their Berlin rivals Hertha - with Kevin Behrens forcing a great save from Kepa Arrizabalaga with a close-range volley. Frederik Rønnow then did well to stop former Borussia Dortmund man Jude Bellingham from a tight angle at the other end. Stuttgart-born Spaniard Joselu saw a header skim Rønnow's crossbar before curling another effort wide, but Union always looked capable of hitting the record European champions on the counter, with Behrens unfortunate to see Robin Knoche's through-ball evade him after some great work in breaking the lines from the big centre-back. The half ended in dramatic fashion. Rønnow saved a Luka Modrić penalty and moments later launched a ball upfield with former Bayern Munich star David Alaba making a mess of clearing, allowing Kevin Volland to steal in and make it 1-0.

Union had the first chance of the second half too, Behrens heading an effort harmlessly into Kepa Arrizabalaga's gloves. Rønnow then made the save of the game at the other end, denying Rodrygo from point-blank range when the Brazilian looked to have the goal at his mercy. Kepa had a scare soon after following a Behrens through-ball to Volland, but it was one he survived before Stuttgart-born Spaniard Joselu got the record European champions back on level terms with a header from a Rodrygo cross. Little more than 10 minutes later and Joselu scored his and Real's second, heading home a Fran García cross at the near post. Second-half substitute Alex Král smashed home an equaliser five minutes from time, but Dani Ceballos had the final say and it ended 3-2 to Real.

Match stats

  • Volland and Kral scored their second European goals of the season, drawing level with Sheraldo Becker as Union's top scorers on the continent.
  • Union assistant Marie-Louise Eta became the first female coach in Champions League history against Braga. She won the 2010 UEFA Women's Champions League as a Turbine Potsdam player.
  • Union were the 14th different German team to play in the Champions League groups.
  • Union head coach Nenad Bjelica faced Real three times as an Albacete player without losing (D2, L1).
  • Bellingham registered 12 goals and 16 assists in 92 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund.
  • Alaba and Toni Kroos won continental trebles with Bayern, while Ancelotti guided them to the 2016/17 Bundesliga title.


Union: Rønnow - Jaeckel (Becker 75'), Knoche, Leite, Roussillon - Khedira (c) (Král 75') - Juranović (Trimmel 82'), Volland (Aaronson 82'), Haberer, Gosens (Laïdouni 75') - Behrens
Unused subs: Schwolow, Stein, Fofana, Dehl
 Bonucci (suspended), Doekhi (foot), Tousart (suspended)
Nenad Bjelica

Real: Kepa - Vázquez, Nacho (c), Alaba (Rüdiger 71'), García - Ceballos (Paz 90'), Valverde (Kroos 46'), Modrić - Bellingham - Joselu, Rodrygo (Brahim 80')
Unused subs: Lunin, Cañizares, Mendy, Martín, Gonzalo, Tobia
Out: Camavinga (knee), Carvajal (calf), Courtois (knee), Güler (thigh), Tchouaméni (foot), Militão (knee), Vinícius (thigh)
Carlo Ancelotti

As it happened

2 - 2

(0 - 0)

Union Berlin
Champions League
Group C, Matchday 6
Group C, Matchday 6 Olympiastadion, Berlin

Real find a winner

Dani Ceballos's shot deflects off Roussillon and nestles into the back of the net...


What about that?! A fantastic hit from Union sub Alex Král to level the scores at 2-2!

Treble change for Union

Aïssa Laïdouni, Alex Král and Sheraldo Becker enter the fray for the hosts. Can they turn it around?

GOAL! Union 1-2 Real

Joselu grabs his second with a header from a tight angle.

Real change

Former Stuttgart man Antonio Rüdiger replaces Alaba.

Joselu levels

Joselu heads home Rodrygo's cross from the right. Honours even once again.


Union break immediately and Kepa nearly makes a mess of Behrens' through-ball intended for Volland, but he recovers the danger at the last.


Rønnow makes an incredible point-blank save from Rodrygo, who thought he had scored with a close-range header.

Alaba booked

Alaba goes into the book after impeding Behrens, who would have been off on the counter-attack.

Rønnow save

Lucas Vázquez's acrobatic attempt is well saved by Rønnow.

Union chance

Josip Juranović whips in a cross from the right for Behrens, he does well to head it goalward but it doesn't dip in time to trouble Kepa.

Real sub

We're back underway as Toni Kroos, once of Bayern, replaces Valverde for the visitors.
+ 3


Moments later Rønnow lofts it forward, David Alaba makes a mess of his clearance and Kevin Volland steals in to convert!

Rønnow to the rescue!

Diego Leite handballs in the box and Luka Modrić steps up to take the resulting penalty, but Rønnow guesses right!

Joselu chance!

Second later, Joselu tries to curl onto into the far top corner with the outside of his boot, but it flies past the post.

Knock, knock, Knoche…

Robin Knoche doesn't well to beat the press before slipping a through-ball to Behrens, but there is just too much on it for the striker to latch onto it.

Napoli lead by two…

Victor Osimhen has doubled Napoli's lead against Braga. Union need Napoli to win to have any chance of Europa League qualification.

Yellow cards flying

Rani Khedira - younger brother of Real Madrid legend Sami - and Bellingham are both in the book after arguing over a Nacho challenge on Jérôme Roussillon.

Madrid free-kick

Fede Valverde hits a set piece lifted straight from the training ground, but it drifts past Rønnow's far post.

Behrens has a go

Jerome Roussillon crosses for Behrens and the recent Germany cap connects, but not with enough venom to trouble Kepa.

Joselu chance

Fran García whips the ball into Joselu and the Stuttgart-born Spaniard's header skims the bar.

Napoli lead…

Napoli are 1-0 up against Braga. A win for Union, if it stays that way in Italy, send Die Eisernern into the Europa League knock-out round play-off.


Jude Bellingham takes a good touch in the box and hits it, but Frederik Rønnow is well placed to make the save

Real settling

After Union's early flurry - they had another chance flagged for offside - Real have begun to settle into possession…

Union chance

A bright start from Union. Rani Khedira hooks the ball into Kevin Behrens and his close-range volley is saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga!


We're underway in the German capital!

Incredible atmosphere

The Union Berlin fans are in full voice at the Olympiastadion - normally the home of city rivals Hertha.

What's in it for Union?

Real Madrid are already through as Group C winners, but Union can book a place in the Europa League if they win and Napoli beat Braga in the other game.

More on Real's team

Former Borussia Dortmund favourite Jude Bellingham is at No.10, but doesn't have the injured Aurélien Tchouaméni or Eduardo Camavinga for company in behind him. Vinícius Júnior is injured, so Joselu and Rodrygo in attack ahead of the Englishman.

More on Union's team

Paul Jaeckel comes into the side at right-back, with Josip Juranović now joining Robin Gosens in playing further forward under Nenad Bjelica than they did under his predecessor Urs Fisher. Top scorer Sheraldo Becker has shaken off a knock to make the bench.

Real subs

Lunin, Cañizares, Kroos, Brahim, Rüdiger, Mendy, Martín, Paz, Gonzalo, Tobias

Real starting XI

Kepa - Vázquez, Nacho (c), Alaba, García - Ceballos, Valverde, Modrić - Bellingham - Joselu, Rodrygo

Union subs

Schwolow, Stein, Aaronson, Fofana, Laïdouni, Becker, Trimmel, Král, Dehl

Union starting XI

Rønnow - Jaeckel, Knoche, Leite, Roussillon - Khedira (c) - Juranović, Volland, Haberer, Gosens - Behrens

So close

Die Eisernen could not have come any closer to earning a point in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu on Matchday 1. An injury-time goal from ex-Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham was a harsh blow to a Union side who had done enough to leave the Spanish capital with a scoreless draw in their very first Champions League game. A shot at revenge awaits ...

Union's task?

It's pretty straightforward: Tuesday's hosts are bottom of the section and on two points, two behind Braga in third. In order to take that Europa League spot, The Irons must beat Real Madrid and hope Braga lose against Napoli in the evening's other game.

"The perfect game"

New Union coach Nenad Bjelica has been speaking to the media ahead of what looks set to be an exciting encounter at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. "We played a good game on Saturday [against Gladbach] and I am convinced that we will put in another good performance on the pitch [against Real]," the tactician said, in quotes appearing on UEFA's website. "We will have to play a perfect game," the Croatian added.

Reasons to be hopeful

Union have shaken that first-win-in-an-age (well, since last August) monkey of their backs after the Irons picked up all three points at home to Borussia Mönchelgladbach last weekend. How all connected with the club breathed a huge sigh of relief.


Hello and welcome along to our coverage of the Champions League Group C climax where Union are looking to down record European champions Real Madrid and seal a spot in the Europa League.