1. FC Union Berlin destroyed an abject 1. FC Kaiserslautern with a first half blitz to win for the first time in six 2. Bundesliga matches.
Sebastian Polter scored twice and had a penalty saved, with Giuliano Modica and Marcel Correia own goals adding to the Red Devils’ misery.
Polter went on to complete his hat-trick to inflict on of Kaiserslautern’s worst defeats in the league, and leaving them rock bottom of the table.
Managerless Kaiserslautern have nightmare start
Following the sacking of Norbert Meier in the aftermath of their 2-0 defeat to Erzgebirge Aue, Manfred Paula took interim charge here, making four changes by recalling Modica, Phillipp Mwene, Daniel Halfar and Gino Fechner. Jens Keller made six changes after a much-rotated team lost to SV Sandhausen, with Felix Kroos, Simon Hedlund and Polter amongst those recalled.
There were signs even early on hinting at what was to come, as Toni Leistner had a header from a wise free-kick put out by Marius Müller and Polter headed the corner over. Müller was responsible soon after for the first goal. His over-enthusiastic throw was intercepted by Kristian Pederson who found Polter, who put a stunning strike into the top corner to put Union in the lead.
It got worse for Kaiserslautern just six minutes later. From Christopher Trimmel’s corner, Fabian Schönheim headed wide. Or at least he would have done, if Modica didn’t put his foot in the way to put the ball in the back of his own net.
The Red Devils were literally all over the place at the back, and Union, who had been in a mini-slump themselves, failing to win in any of the previous five games, were making the most of it. An unmarked Polter would have scored a second if not for a woefully-misdirected header, whilst Müller partially redeemed himself with a good block from a Marcel Hartel effort.
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Union inflict further misery on league’s bottom side
The goalkeeper, back with Kaiserslautern on loan from RB Leipzig, was soon in need of even more redemption. Steven Skrzybski capitalised on a mistake from Correia and put a long ball over the top for Polter to chase onto. Müller rushed out of his goal, with the Union striker having little trouble in waltzing past him and scoring into an empty net.
The nightmare continued for the visitors. This time it was a poor referring decision from Markus Schmidt, as Sebastian Andersson was unfairly penalised for a foul on Polter in the box, although the latter was clearly the one pulling on Andersson’s shirt. Polter stepped up with the chance to complete his hat-trick from the spot, but Müller ensured justice was done by saving a poor penalty.
Nevertheless die Eisern continued their onslaught. Skrzybski struck over the bar, with another good hit coming from Hartel, which just went over the bar without dipping enough to catch out Müller. His goal kick then gifted Union another chance, falling again to the former 1. FC Köln youngster Hartel, but Müller saved.
Then came the fourth goal. Correia tried to clear a corner, but only found Skyrzybski. He thundered a shot towards goal, which was probably on target, but a big deflection of the head of Correia made absolutely sure. 4-0, and still before half-time. They was a belated fightback of sorts after that from Kaiserslautern, with Jakob Busk making a couple of saves from Manfred Osei Kwadwo, but nothing that really tested the Dane.
Polter completes treble in quieter second half
Perhaps keen not to give anything away straight after the break, Union went a little easy, although Schönheim still strayed forward to shoot wide, whilst Skrzybski had an effort saved by Müller. They really should have added a fifth though when Hedlund was found by Kroos – he was in a perfect place to score but instead struck wide.
As easy as it is to start playing at 4-0 down, that is just what Kaiserslautern tried to do. A cross-shot from Leon Guwara had Busk worried for a few seconds before he could watch it over his bar. There were some other positive moves forward, Baris Atik involved in some, whilst Andersson would later force Busk into an unconvincing save with a short-range effort.
Eventually a fifth had to come. Yet again Union had a long ball, played by Leistner, completely bypass the Kaiserslautern midfield and defence. Hartel, unconventionally, met it with his backside, with Polter gleefully taking up the chance to complete his hat-trick. He was then immediately subbed out to huge applause, replaced by Philipp Hosiner.
It was Hedlund though he had the one chance to make it six, coming in from the left only to see his shot saved. Guwara struck over with one final opportunity for Kaiserslautern – he might have deserved a goal for his personal efforts, but the team didn’t deserve a consolation. An awful night for them, as simple as that.