In a clash between two of the 2. Bundesliga's promotion hopefuls, Union Berlin eventually overcame Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei on Monday night. After a first half devoid of any major chances, Simon Hedlund and then Dennis Daube struck to keep Union Berlin in distance with die Löwen, VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96 at the top of the second division.
Lackluster opening half at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei
Union Berlin have struggled at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei in recent weeks, suffering defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf and being held to a stalemate against VfB Stuttgart, however it was Jens Keller's home side started the match brightly. Damir Kreilach leapt highest to meet a Felix Kroos corner, but the 27-year-old's header fizzed just over Jasmin Fejzić's goal.
The highly rated Croatian was at the fore for die Eiserne throughout. His cross-cum-shot from a wide left position provided the best chance throughout the entire first half for both sides. Kroos' back heel follow up effort could've proven to be so much more from a Union perspective, although it was a disappointment and ended up in an easy save for the Bosnian Eintracht Braunschweig goalkeeper.
Despite these two half chances, the first half was devoid of any major chances in a game between two of the 2. Bundesliga's promotion candidates. The visiting Braunschweig were espeically disappointing; the Lower Saxon side have struggled as of late away from the Eintracht-Stadion, and are without a win since a 2-0 victory against Erzgebirge Aue in September.
Die Löwen's Onel Hernández proved to be the visitors brightest threat in the opening forty-five, as he turned Kristian Pedersen inside out on a number of occasions. That said, as was typical with the first half throughout for Thorsten Lieberknecht's side and Union Berlin, the end product was lacking from the 23-year-old German.
Die Eiserne burst into action
The second half began in the same vein as the first, but then out of nowhere Dominick Kumbela nearly broke the deadlock with a stroke of brilliance for die Löwen. The DR Congo striker ambitiously shot from some forty yards out and courtesy of a Toni Leistner deflection, the ball looped up and over Jakob Jensen and was only kept out by the inside of the post. The 32-year-old, Kumbela, already has nine goals so far this season on his first full season back with Braunschweig, following a sojourn with Greuther Fürth and spell with Turkish side Karabükspor.
Lieberknecht had understandably stayed loyal to the players that had earned die Löwen a 2-1 victory last time out against 1860 Munich, as the 43-year-old who has been in charge of Braunschweig since May 2008 made only one change to his starting eleven. Philemon Ofosu-Ayeh came in for Nik Omladič, but that didn't necessarily make for another good performance as Eintracht Braunschweig largely disappointed.
The Kumbela effort seemed to spark the game into life, and only moments after Braunschweig had threatened to take the lead, they fell behind to Simon Hedlund's left footed effort. The Swede recovered from a poor first touch, before shifting the ball onto his left foot and placing an effort into the far corner beyond Fejzić, for his first in the red of Union Berlin since a summer switch from IF Elfsborg.
Eintracht Braunscwheig tried as they might to equaliser, as their torrid run away from home looked to continue. Hernández, by this point on the left hand side, once again troubled whilst Christoffer Nyman and Mirko Boland both saw chances to test Jensen. In the meanwhile, Lieberknecht also made two attacking changes as he threw all caution to the wind - Patrick Schönfeld and Omladič both entered the fray.
Instead it was Union Berlin that extended their lead late on. Dennis Daube started and finished the move; the former St. Pauli man carried the ball forward, before he found Hedlund. Fejzić was this time match to the Swede's effort, but he teed up Daube who stroked the ball home from the six yard box and put the result beyond doubt in the German capital.