The Iron Men, who had been beaten by seconds, briefly looked at the Madrid evening sky in perplexity and disappointment, long after the bitter last-minute knockout. But the Union fan chants echoed through the venerable Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
The Bundesliga club wore down Real Madrid's royal team for more than 90 minutes. A stunning goal from three meters by former Dortmund star Jude Bellingham in the fourth minute of added time destroyed the hope of a sensational result on their debut in the European championship.
"We were patient. We knew we would have chances until the end," said Bellingham, whose goal celebration was also an expression of relief after a game of hard work. He redeemed the Royals in front of over 80,000 spectators with his goal against the passionately defending selection of coach Urs Fischer.
Despite the defeat at the start of the European Cup, the Berliners can tackle the upcoming tasks in the Bundesliga, where a negative trend must be averted after two defeats. On Saturday, TSG Hoffenheim comes to the stadium at the Alte Försterei.
Historic Union moment
"It's a bit crazy. It's not really tangible at the moment," said Union manager Oliver Ruhnert on DAZN before kick-off and looked at the legendary electronic display on the stadium balustrade. There it was written in blue and white: Real Madrid C.F. and 1. FC Union Berlin. In the end, the 0-0 draw between the club names no longer stood.
Addressing this historic moment in the club's history correctly was a difficult task for Fischer; he also relies on the experienced Italian European champion Leonardo Bonucci as his defense chief. Everyone should be able to absorb the unique experience intensively, but not at the expense of the tiny hope of a tangible sensation. “You shouldn’t be too surprised. Today you have to have a lot of confidence,” demanded the coach at DAZN.
The conditions also reminded the Iron Men of the beginning of the Bundesliga just four years ago, when no one at the national level had any confidence in the underdog club. “At the moment it’s just important to see how we move on this stage,” said Ruhnert.
Union with strong defense
They moved well in their ultra-defensive basic order. Goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow helped with two early headers from Joselu (3rd/6th) and the luck of a centimeter once helped. But hiding wasn't the order of the day. A shot from Kevin Behrens (3rd) was blocked. Even more would have been possible when Aissa Laidouni bravely moved into the Real penalty area a little later. The action fizzled out because it was presented a little too hastily.
Union shifted to its core business, defense. With success. More than a few imprecise long-range shots from David Alaba (23rd) and Aurélien Tchouameni (27th) and Nacho (34th) failed to reach the Rönnow goal in the first half. Real coach Carlo Ancelotti rows his arms on the sidelines as if he wanted to give a push.
Acoustically, the stadium had long been in Union hands. The several thousand Berlin fans celebrated their fiesta. On this sunny late summer day, the chants were already ringing out at the Puerta del Sol in the afternoon. However, around 300 supporters did not come to the stadium because they were not allowed to take their fan paraphernalia such as banners with them.
Ancelotti must have found clear words. Real came out of the locker room angry and now the Bernabéu unleashed the force that has brought other teams to their knees. Union were lucky when Rodrygo (51') and Joselu (63') hit the post. Rönnow was increasingly in the spotlight and reacted excellently on several occasions. Ancelotti now also brought Toni Kroos into the game. The former BVB professional, who was also named player of the game, broke the iron bar. “Bellingham works the miracle and brings victory to Real,” wrote Spain’s “Sport”.