1. FC Union Berlin lost ground on the 2. Bundesliga top two as a late Stanislav Iljutcenko equaliser earned hosts MSV Duisburg a point.
After a poor first half, Toni Leistner put Union ahead early in the half, but the Zebras responded well and deserved a draw in the end.
After 1. FC Nürnberg’s defeat to 1. FC Heidenheim Union go level on points with Der Club, but remain fourth and four points behind second-placed Holstein Kiel.
Early free-kick as close as either side comes
The hosts, just two points above the bottom three before kick-off, made just one change from their vital 1-0 win over 1. FC Kaiserslautern this time last week, with Andreas Wiegel replacing Enis Hajri. Jens Keller restored the Union line-up that beat SpVgg Greuther Fürth 3-1 last weekend, after making nine changes for the DFB-Pokal defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.
Die Eisern could have been ahead inside the first five minutes. Duisburg failed to immediately clear a free-kick from the left, conceding after a poor foul from Wiegel on Simon Hedlund. That allowed Sebastian Polter to get a shot away, which was blocked by Gerrit Nauber, before a follow-up effort from Marcel Hartel was saved by Mark Flekken.
Otherwise though the Duisburg defence was holding firm, restricting their guests whose finishing when they did get a sight of goal left a lot to be desired. Felix Kroos and Leistner both had shots well off target, as did Hartel on the cusp of half-time after also having an effort saved by Flekken.
Moritz Stoppelkamp had the best of the chances at the other end but was unable to truly test Jakob Busk in the Union goal, and neither was Fabian Schnellhardt with a shot wide. Conditions may not have helped, with bright sunshine at kick-off replaced by heavy rain before the blue sky returned by half-time.
Union punished for not building on Leistner’s opener
The game was in need of a goal and it got just that a few minutes into the second half. Christopher Trimmel’s corner found the head for Leistner, who outjumped his marker to score his first goal in almost a year for Union.
Kingsley Onuegbu had been quiet but a poor first touch denied him what could have been the equaliser, and what was by far Duisburg’s best chance of the match up to this point. The cross came in from Wiegel, but Onuegbu stuck a leg out and it went straight out wide.
The Zebras could have had a penalty soon after too, with Boris Tashchy fouled right on the edge of the box by the scorer Leistner, however referee Christian Dietz decided it was just outside. Stoppelkamp, capable of better from dead-ball situations, put the free-kick into the stands.
Free-kick duties passed over to Kevin Wolze when Stoppelkamp went off, and from out on the right he played a perfect one into the heart of the box. Iljutcenko was the man to get the shot way, but he went wide. With four minutes remaining though, the substitute made no mistake when found by Wolze in open play. He got ahead of Leistner to head in a well-placed ball to bring the game level.
Other than the odd chance for Akaki Gogia, Union had rarely looked like adding a second to their lead and in the end were unable to capitalise on Nürnberg’s 1-0 defeat. The top two look out of reach for now, with Kiel four points ahead and leaders Foruna Düssledorf are six points ahead of Keller’s side. Duisburg get another valuable point as they battle to keep the heads above water.