A late penalty from Sebastian Polter earned 1. FC Union Berlin a point against Holstein Kiel, who still though return to the top of the 2. Bundesliga for at least the next 24 hours.
As Germany’s second tier returned from its winter break, the Storks raced into a first half lead through Tom Weilandt and Dominick Drexler, only for Steven Skrzybski to controversially pull one back before the break.
With the minutes ticking by, Kiel then had David Kinsombi sent off after conceding a penalty, which was converted by Polter.
Kiel race ahead before being pegged back
Before the month-long break, both sides had finished 2017 with defeats – Kiel lost top spot after a 3-1 reverse at SV Sandhausen, whilst Union succumbed 2-1 to FC Ingolstadt 04. Kiel had three players suspended but could recall Kingsley Schindler and Marvin Ducksch. Union had a change in goal with Daniel Mesenhöler replacing Jakob Busk, whilst Grischa Prömel also returned in favour of Stephen Fürstner. The game between these sides earlier in the season had been a thriller, with the Berlin side just coming out on top.
The home crowd here was in boisterous mood, and although they weren’t rewarded when Drexler’s cross was headed to the hands of Daniel Mesenhöler by Schindler, they would be celebrating a few minutes later when Weilandt put them ahead. The goal came from a quick break down the right, with top scorer Ducksch turning provider on this occasion, his crossed tapped in by Weilandt in the middle.
A half chance of an equaliser almost fell to Polter but Kenneth Kronholm got to the long ball from Skrzybski first. A couple of minutes later though, the home side would extend their lead. A corner from Steven Lewerenz was tapped on at the near post by Niklas Hoheneder, with Drexler on the other side of the goal sliding in to put the ball over the line.
After that Kiel were perhaps a little guilty of sitting back, with die Eisern able to get a goal back, with Christopher Trimmel supplying Skrzybski to put the ball home. He had been ahead of the last defender, but no offside was given.
Late penalty salvages a point
Both sides had a chance to add to the scoring after the break. For the visitors, Polter headed a Trimmel cross goal bound, only to be denied by Kronholm, with the same happening to Ducksch at the other end, having not put enough weight behind his shot to trouble Mesenhöler.
A few minutes later, the Storks were inches away from number three. A deflected ball was hit by Schindler into the ground, with Mesenhöler reacting to divert it onto the post. Even after that they could have scored through Drexler, who was waiting at the same post, but he could only go wide with his effort.
With the rain pouring down as it had been throughout the match, the game remained well poised, as the two sets of players kept probing at each other, with little reward. The drama was being held until the final stages.
With just over five minutes remaining, Union were awarded a penalty, after Kinsombi was adjudged to have forced Simon Hedlund to the ground as they tangled in the box. Perhaps harshly, he was shown a straight red card by Arne Aarnink, with Polter, after a brief delay, firing in the spot kick, with Kronholm guessing the wrong way.
Union had all the chances to snatch the winner in the final minutes. Toni Leistner would have been an unlikely winner but he came forward to force a save out of Kronholm. In stoppage time, substitute Philipp Hosiner was inches away from connecting with a cross from the right, whilst with the final action Polter headed over a corner. The points were therefore shared, with the one all that Kiel needed to return top on goal difference, at least until Fortuna Düsseldorf play on Wednesday night.
Tuesday’s other 2. Bundesliga results
VfL Bochum 0-2 MSV Duisburg (0-1, Iljutcenko 40’; 0-2, Wolze 45+1‘ (P))
1. FC Nürnberg 2-2 SSV Jahn Regensburg (0-1, Lais 6‘; 1-1, Behrens 10‘; 1-2, Grüttner 28‘; 2-2, Salli 49‘)
FC Ingolstadt 04 0-0 SV Sandhausen