Dhe cup heroes of 1. FC Union Berlin jumped in front of their loyal followers and made the fans dream of the final in the capital. The Irons did not let the Isco transfer burst deter them from their path to success and reached the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup. The runners-up in the Bundesliga won 2-1 (1-1) against VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday evening and thus celebrated their fourth win in their fourth competitive game this year.
Only a few hours after the deal with former real star Isco did not materialize and the Spaniard was already on his way home, the Berliners once again caught up: after Luca Waldschmidt gave the visitors an early lead in the Former Wolfsburg player Robin Knoche equalized in the fifth minute (12th). The winning goal was scored by Kevin Behrens (79th) in front of 22,012 fans in the sold-out stadium at the Alte Försterei. The yellow-red card for Berlin’s Niko Gießelmann shortly before the end did not change anything (87th).
“It’s a deserved win, the game was closely fought. That’s how you imagine it when you come in – an outstanding feeling. We’re a horny bunch. It’s fun for us,” said substitute match winner Behrens on the Sky TV channel, adding with a view to the failed Isco transfer: “Of course we talked about it. We put it through great and made a joke or two.” Rani Khedira emphasized that Union was “a great team” even without Isco.
Transfer-Possession a Bait in Berlin
Sports director Jörg Schmadtke’s last day at work for the Wolves ended in disappointment. “I leave the stage with my head held high and I’m glad that I can take care of other things at the age of 58,” said Schmadtke, adding with regard to the game: “It was a classic Union game. We got in well, made three mistakes to concede a goal and were countered at the end. The last punch was missing, Union had it. We have to a certain extent to blame ourselves for the defeat.” After 16 cup successes in a row, coach Kovac suffered a defeat again. The Croatian, who had led Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Bayern to victory in the cup, missed the record set by Hennes Weisweiler in the 1970s.
The transfer posse around Isco had kept the Köpenicker club in suspense all day. The five-time Champions League winner had even completed the medical check and should have a contract until mid-2024 plus an option for another year. According to Union managing director Oliver Ruhnert, the Spaniard’s consulting agency had requested changes, which finally burst the transfer. “Even if the player is already here, we don’t allow ourselves to do anything that doesn’t suit us,” Ruhnert told Sky TV, while the Isco side saw the problem at Union.
Berlin coach Urs Fischer admitted that it was an issue in the team all day. Perhaps this was also the reason why the Berliners completely slept through the start in heavy rain. Waldschmidt scored the first chance to score from a short distance after the Unioners had already moved out of the penalty area. However, Janik Haberer canceled the offside when he ran back into the field at the goal line.
It didn’t take long for the second in the Bundesliga to recover from the shock. And once again a standard situation led to success. After a short corner, Croatian World Cup participant Josip Juranovic, who was signed by Celtic Glasgow, crossed to Knoche in his starting eleven, who only had to push in. It was a special goal for the defender, after all he had moved to Wolfsburg when he was a junior and made his Bundesliga debut there.
As expected, an intense and physical cup fight developed. The Berliners gradually gained the upper hand and had a great chance to take the lead in the middle of the first half when Jordan’s head hit the crossbar (27′). Keeper Pavao Pervan, who had moved between the posts for Koen Casteels who had a cold, would have been powerless for the second time. On the other side, Paulo Otavio tested the Berlin goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow (37th).
In the second round, VfL had advantages, but without creating any great chances. On the other hand, the Berliners presented themselves as ice cold again. After a cross from Rani Khedira, Sheraldo Becker headed the ball perfectly in the middle for Behrens, who only had to shoot in.