Union Berlin have jumped into the Bundesliga top four after defeating Werder Bremen 2-0 at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
It was nearly a perfect performance on the road for Berlin, as early goals from Sheraldo Becker and Taiwo Awoniyi put them ahead in the first half. They held on to the advantage with relative ease, as Bremen just couldn’t get past their resolute defense on any occasion.
The result keeps Berlin near the very top of the league standings while dragging Bremen even closer to the bottom three.
Story of the match
After a cagey opening, Berlin would open the scoring after 11 minutes. A long pass picked out Taiwo Awoniyi on the counter, who then found his strike partner Sheraldo Becker. He would do the rest, carrying the ball towards the top of the penalty area before rifling a shot into the bottom corner.
They would double their advantage near the half hour mark as Awoniyi got himself on the scoresheet. All coming from a mistake at the back from Bremen, the away side made the most of the error by quickly getting the ball to Awoniyi who somehow poked it past an onrushing Jiri Pavlenka and into the back of the net.
Bremen thought they had halved the deficit before halftime when Romano Schmid snuck in behind and slotted home a shot from close range. However, the sideline official put his flag up to call offside, and a VAR review then confirmed his decision.
The home side would come close in the 66th minute as a superb corner from Ludwig Augustinsson picked out substitute striker Davie Selke. However, he couldn’t get a proper shot off, and the ball ended up just bouncing off him before going straight to the goalkeeper.
Berlin responded well and almost put the game to bed moments later. Coming courtesy of another break, Becker hit a low cross into the area towards Awoniyi. He went for a first time effort, but ended up blazing an attempted shot over the crossbar.
Those would prove to be the final chances of the contest, as Berlin managed to hold on to all three points despite Bremen sending plenty of bodies forward late on.
Not enough from Bremen
It may not have been the worst performance from Bremen, but it certainly wasn’t a great one.
They just never got going on the attack. The Green-Whites had a decent amount of the ball, but they failed to do much with it. Passes were misplaced, and no one was able to create anything on their own.
At the back, the mistakes that have haunted Bremen in the past have seemingly returned. The defending on the opening goal was woeful, while a turnover in their own third led to the second.
It was a showing that epitomised their recent struggles. Supporters may have been dreaming of Europa League qualification earlier in the season, but they’ll now just hope Bremen can avoid yet another relegation fight.
Berlin are European candidates
Speaking of European competition, it seems Berlin are more than ready to push for a Europa League spot.
This result put them into 4th place for the time being, which is more than deserved considering how strong they are in all facets of the game.
Known for their solidity at the back, the Berlin defense just doesn’t slip up under pressure. They stay composed and they do their job, clearing away any danger time and time again.
They’re surprisingly dangerous going forward as well. The front two of Taiwo Awoniyi and Sheraldo Becker ran riot once again, using their pace and ruthlessness to devastating effect. It wasn’t on show today, but they’re also lethal on set pieces, which allows them to grab goals even if they aren’t playing well.
Berlin’s recent wins have all come without talisman Max Kruse, which makes these performances all the more impressive. There’s a lot of the season left to go, but it’s clear that this Union team is ready for whatever will be thrown at them.
Man of the match - Taiwo Awoniyi
A goal and an assist will always be seen as a good day at the office for a forward, and that’s exactly what Berlin got from Taiwo Awoniyi against Bremen.
The Nigerian set up the opening goal of the contest, running into space before finding Sheraldo Becker in a dangerous position. He went from provider to scorer soon after, using his attacking instincts to get the ball in the area and poke home from close range.
Always a threat on the counter, Awoniyi constantly peeled off the Bremen backline to help create chances for his side. An absolute nightmare to deal with at times, the Liverpool loanee could’ve had even more goal contributions if he was just a bit sharper on the afternoon.
Either way it was enough to get the job done. Awoniyi has stepped up in Max Kruse’s absence, and he’ll likely continue to play a key part as Berlin push for European qualification.