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1. FC Union Berlin vs. FC St. Pauli

FC St. Pauli lost in the cruellest way imaginable at Union Berlin on Saturday afternoon. Sebastian Polter got the only goal of the game in the 92nd minute of a game in which the Boys in Brown deserved at least a point. The best chance fell to Sami Allagui with a header that came back off the crossbar in the 61st minute.

Head coach Olaf Janßen made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home against Erzgebirge Aue last week. Waldemar Sobota came in for Johannes Flum, who dropped to the bench, while Maurice Litka stepped in at the last minute to replace Jeremy Dudziak, who has a cold. Fit-again Aziz Bouhaddouz returned to the squad, though Jan-Marc Schneider missed out due to illness.

On the back of three wins and two draws on home turf, Union seized the initiative in front of a sell-out crowd and registered the first half-chance in the seventh minute when Marcel Hartel fired over from distance following a wayward pass in midfield. The home side had another go from range nine minutes later. Christopher Trimmel met a headed clearance first time, but Lasse Sobiech was able to get in the way of it.

The alarm bells were ringing less than 60 seconds later when former St. Pauli man Akaki Gogia burst into the penalty area before squaring the ball to Union's leading scorer Sebastian Polter, who fluffed his shot only for the ball to fall to Hartel. Thankfully, Himmelmann raced out of his goal to defuse the situation and Daniel Buballa was eventually able to clear his lines.

After failing to take advantage of one or two promising opportunities to break the Boys in Brown mustered their first attempt on goal in the 22nd minute when Sami Allagui squared the ball for Christopher Buchtmann to shoot wide from outside the box. Janßen's side gradually began to loosen the home side's grip on the proceedings but it was Union who had the next chance from a corner on 28. Gogia met an underhit clearance on the volley from 20 metres, but Himmelmann gathered the ball cleanly.

There then followed a moment of controversy at the other end. Litka threaded a pass through to Allagui and he went down in the Union penalty area. After a moment's hesitation referee Bastian Dankert ruled the Tunisian international had dived and showed him the yellow card, even though the onrushing Jakob Busk made slight contact with the striker's left foot. A galling decision for the Boys in Brown, as it could easily have been a penalty. That was the last situation of note in the first half, and so the two teams went in scoreless at the break.

Captains Felix Kroos and Bernd Nehrig battle for the ball in a hard-fought contest.

Captains Felix Kroos and Bernd Nehrig battle for the ball in a hard-fought contest.

Both teams emerged unchanged for the second half. Union carved out the first opening two minutes in, but Gogia blasted the ball into the stands from eight metres. With their aggressive pressing game the home side continued to stifle the St. Pauli build-up, forcing Janßen's charges to wait for a mistake and the chance to break quickly. The Berliners enjoyed more of the play and had the next chance through Polter from Trimmel's cross on 54, though he got his header badly wrong and the ball missed the far post by some distance.

That effort may have been well off target, but the Boys in Brown came within inches of opening the scoring at the other end on the hour when Allagui headed a Luca Zander cross against the crossbar moments after forcing a fine save from Busk following some great work by Sobota. Union continued to edge the possession but Janßen's side came more and more into it as the game wore on and had another decent chance on 66 minutes. Buchtmann swung a corner in to Sobiech, whose header flew straight to Bernd Nehrig, but the captain couldn't get on top of the ball and headed it just over the crossbar. Six minutes later Janßen made his first substitution, introducing Bouhaddouz for Allagui.

In an exciting final quarter of an hour both sides pushed forward in search of a winner. Union began with two chances in quick succession when Zander blocked a header from substitute Damir Kreilach and Kristian Pedersen rifled the rebound into the side netting. The Boys in Brown responded almost immediately and after some neat interplay involving Mats Møller Dæhli and Sobota a chance opened up for Bouhaddouz, only for Pedersen to slide in and defuse the danger.

The tempo remained high and Pedersen broke down the left before teeing up Polter, whose long-range effort posed no problem for Himmelmann. As the game entered into stoppage time, the question was whether either side could land a lucky punch. Unfortunately, the answer was yes. Trimmel knocked one last free-kick into the danger area, where Polter powered an unstoppable header past Himmelmann into the far corner. Moments later it was all over. After going four games unbeaten the Boys in Brown were left to reflect on the bitterest of defeats.

 

Union Berlin

Busk – Trimmel, Torrejon, Leistner, Pedersen – Kroos (Daube 72'), Prömel – Gogia (Skrzybski 67'), Hartel (Kreilach 74'), Hedlund – Polter

Head coach: Jens Keller

 

St. Pauli

Himmelmann – Zander, Sobiech, Avevor, Buballa – Nehrig, Buchtmann – Sobota, Møller Dæhli (Flum 86'), Litka – Allagui (Bouhaddouz 72')

Head coach: Olaf Janßen

 

Goals: 1-0 Polter (90'+2)

Yellow cards: Allagui

Referee: Bastian Dankert (Rostock)

Attendance: 22,012 (sold out)

 

Photos: Witters

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