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Sven Michel saves Union just before the end – Leverkusen wins against Budapest

With a late goal, Joker Sven Michel saved 1.

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Sven Michel saves Union just before the end – Leverkusen wins against Budapest

With a late goal, Joker Sven Michel saved 1. FC Union Berlin a draw in a thrilling round of 16 first leg of the Europa League and significantly improved the chances of progressing. The Berliners once again struggled against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise at their home stadium An der Alten Försterei and ended up 3-3 (1-1). In front of 21,700 spectators, Victor Boniface (28th and 72nd minutes) and Yorbe Vertessen (58th) put the guests ahead three times. Josip Juranovic (42nd), Robin Knoche (69th) and Michel (89th) scored the respective equalizing goals for the Bundesliga soccer club, which showed comeback qualities.

In the second leg in a week's time at Anderlecht's Lotto Park (9 p.m. / RTL), the Berliners now need a win to progress after regular time. A draw would mean extra time and a possible penalty shootout.

Both teams met in the preliminary round. The Belgians won in Berlin in September. Union's only home defeat this season. The Berliners won the second leg thanks to a goal from Michel. The third-placed Bundesliga player will play VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday (Sunday, 7.30 p.m. / DAZN).

The Berliners and the Unioners from Belgium went into the game with different signs. The Irons had not scored in four of their last five games. Saint-Gilloise, on the other hand, conceded ten goals in four games.

Unlike in the first two duels, when there was a lot of fighting and midfield banter, the Berliners took control from the start. Sheraldo Becker's bounce after a cross from Juranovic, who, like before against 1. FC Köln, started as a temporary left-back, was repelled by Anthony Moris in the Belgian goal (9').

It was significantly more train in the offensive game of Berlin than in the past games. However, the precision demanded by coach Urs Fischer was often lacking. The Belgians initially focused on defending. When they got stuck in the FCU penalty area, Boniface pulled from the left half. Kevin Behrens deflected his shot into the right corner of the goal, making it untenable for Union keeper Frederik Rönnow.

As a result, the guests were able to adapt better to the attacking efforts of the home side. So it took a free kick, which the fouled Juranovic circled into the goal himself from a good 18 meters.

Even after the change, the Bundesliga club remained game-determining. But in the 58th minute, captain Christopher Trimmel played the ball unchallenged into the Belgians' feet. The guests switched quickly. Vertessen was released by Loïc Lapoussin alone in front of the Rönnow goal and completed with a precise shot.

But the hosts stepped it up a notch. The outstanding Moris parried two headers from Danilho Doekhi (66'/67'). In the second situation, Christian Burgess was on the ball with his hand. Moris also initially fended off the penalty that was due. But Knoche was successful with the margin. But the joy was short-lived. Boniface completed an exemplary counterattack before substitute Michel equalized again.

For Bayer Leverkusen, the eighth place in the quarter-finals of a European Cup is within reach. With the 2-0 (1-0) in the round of 16 first leg against the Hungarian champions Ferencváros Budapest, the Bundesliga soccer club laid a good foundation. Kerem Demirbay with an early goal (10') and Edmond Tapsoba with a late goal (86') ensured the hard-fought but befitting victory. Nevertheless, the second leg should be another hot game. The 33-time Hungarian champion is moving to the almost 70,000-seat Puskas Arena, where the final will also take place on May 31st. Over 50,000 tickets have already been sold.

At Ferencváros, Leverkusen lost 1-0 in their actual home stadium last year. At that time, Budapest had been coached by long-time Bundesliga coach Peter Stöger. Stanislaw Tschertschessow, former Bundesliga goalkeeper at Dynamo Dresden and long-time national coach of Russia, is now the coach of Hungary. Most recently, Bayer, who won the UEFA Cup in 1988 and reached the Champions League final in 2002, were among the top eight in the Europa League in 2020. Inter Milan was the last stop back then.

The first leg was a very special one for the Hungarians. For the first time in 19 years, a Hungarian club had wintered in the European Cup, at that time it was Debrecen. Not only an unusually large number of journalists accompanied the Hungarian champions, but also over 2000 fans. And at times they were so loud that the Leverkusen supporters had to make an effort to sing against them.

Bayer initially set the tone on the pitch. The fact that Demirbay scored the early opening goal with a beautiful right-footed shot from 18 meters could be given the attribute "of all things". Because the ex-national player is hardly in demand under Alonso. And when he and Amiri were set up as double six, many Bayer fans had an unpleasant memory: the two ex-Hoffenheimers had only played together in front of the defense once before, and it was 5-1 at home in October 2021 given against FC Bayern. However, in Robert Andrich and the Argentinian world champion Exequiel Palacios both regular six were suspended, Charles Aranguiz is also injured. At least they did their job properly on Thursday.

The Hungarians only appeared in front of the Leverkusen goal in the 26th minute. But that is very dangerous. Kristoffer Zachariassen lobbed the ball from seven yards over Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky, but it hit the crossbar. This exclamation mark gave Budapest tailwind, the superior leaders of the Hungarian league kept the game open until the break.

And after that, both teams played largely on an equal footing before Bayer scored the all-important second goal shortly before the end. Substitute Adam Hlouzek hit the bar with a free kick from 25 yards out, and Tapsoba headed the rebound into the goal.

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