Sheraldo Becker strikes again for high-flying Union Berlin against VfB Stuttgart
Sheraldo Becker ended a run of 11 games without a goal as Union Berlin consolidated third place with a commanding win over bottom side VfB Stuttgart.
Union 3-0 Stuttgart
Goals: 1-0 Becker 51' (assist: Roussillon), 2-0 Behrens 65', 3-0 Haraguchi 68' og
Stuttgart made a confident start, at odds with their rock-bottom standing and run of 22 away Bundesliga games without a win. Juan Perea missed a presentable opening from a Waldemar Anton corner, before Dan-Axel Zagadou fluffed his lines from three yards out following a free-kick. Union's stand-in goalkeeper Lennart Grill made a costly mistake with 33 minutes on the clock when he struck his attempted clearance on the edge of his area straight at Perrea. The VfB Stuttgart duly tucked the ball into the unguarded net, only for the goal to be ruled out upon VAR review for a handball. Blushes spared, Grill made amends by thwarting Tiago Tomas' goal-bound shot with an outstretched boot.
Having failed to seriously trouble Stuttgart keeper Fabian Bredlow in the first half, Union found their stride after the restart. Jerome Roussillon shot wide and Janik Haberer mistimed a header, before Becker broke the deadlock with a free header from Roussillon's pin-point cross. Stuttgart were suddenly all over the shop as Kevin Behrens pounced on a mistake by Anton to score a second goal, the VAR overturning the match referee's initial offside call. The visitors added a third soon after when former Union midfielder Genki Haraguchi inadvertently put the rampaging Behrens' cross past his own keeper. Grill denied Enzo Millot and Roussillon cleared Serhou Guirassy's follow-up attempt off the line as VfB tried to get a foothold on the game, but the damage had been done.
- Becker is Union's eight-goal top scorer this season, but Behrens is their leading marksman in 2023 (four goals).
- With 51 points after 26 matches, Union are enjoying their best-ever Bundesliga season.
- Die Eisernen are the only team other than Bayern Munich still unbeaten at home in this season's Bundesliga (W9, D4).
- Stuttgart are winless in 23 Bundesliga matches away from home, dating back to a 2-0 victory at Wolfsburg on 11 December 2021.
- Union are one of two teams - alongside RB Leipzig - that Stuttgart have never beaten in the Bundesliga (D3, L3).
- Haraguchi made 41 Bundesliga appearances for Union before joining Stuttgart in January.
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Union: Grill - Doekhi, Knoche, Leite - Trimmel (c), Laidouni (Thorsby 60'), Khedira, Haberer (Pantovic 90'+1), Roussillon (Gießelmann 77') - Becker (Leweling 77'), Behrens (Jordan 77')
Unused subs: Busk, Jaeckel, Juranovic, Michel
Out: Ronnow (knock), Schäfer (foot), Seguin (muscular)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Stuttgart: Bredlow - Vagnoman, Mavropanos, Zagadou, Ito - Endo (c), Anton (Coulibaly 63'), Haraguchi (Nartey 79') - Millot, Perea (Guirassy 63'), Tomas (Führich 63')
Unused subs Müller, Stenzel, Dias, Karazor, Pfeiffer
Out: Silas (muscular), Sosa (muscular)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
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