In front of another impressive backdrop in the Olympic Stadium, 1. FC Union Berlin missed the sensation against world club Real Madrid and ended its European Cup adventure. The Köpenick team lost 2:3 (1:0) to the record champions from Spain on the last matchday of the group phase in the sold-out arena after a great fight.
Only with a win could the Berliners have jumped to third place in Group C, which would have seen the team slip into the Europa League after the winter break.
In front of 73,420 spectators, Union goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow saved a hand penalty from Luka Modric (45th minute). In return, Kevin Volland gave Union the lead (45.1). Former Bundesliga striker Joselu scored twice after the break (61st and 72nd). Alex Kral equalized for the Berliners (85th), before Dani Ceballos (89th) ensured the guests' victory.
The Eisernen, who had only ended a series of 16 games without a win against Mönchengladbach on Saturday, must now hope that the defeat does not put a damper on the Bundesliga's relegation battle. There are groundbreaking games coming up before Christmas: on Saturday in Bochum (3:30 p.m./Sky) and the following Wednesday against Cologne (6:30 p.m./Sky).
Ancelotti rotates in five positions
The Madrilenians, with Toni Kroos and Antonio Rüdiger initially sitting on the bench, were already group winners before the game and won all group games for the first time since 2014.
The Köpenickers also turned their last premier class game into a holiday. In the afternoon, more than 20,000 fans came to the An der Alten Försterei stadium to cheer on the U19s in the Youth League against the Real youth team (0:2). More than 70,000 fans also came to the professionals' third home game in the actually unpopular Olympic Stadium.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti rotated to a total of five positions. At Union, coach Nenad Bjelica had to do without the match winner from the Gladbach game, Benedict Hollerbach, who was not nominated for the Champions League in the summer.
“We will play courageously, we will play cheekily,” said Union coach Bjelica on DAZN before kick-off. After just 51 seconds, Kevin Behrens should have given Berlin the lead. A ricochet from Modric after Union pressure landed indirectly at the striker, but Kepa was denied from close range.
Union tried hard, Real were always dangerous offensively
The Iron Men remained trying and Madrid had some uncertainty in defense. But whenever Real increased the tempo offensively, things became dangerous. The ex-Dortmund Jew Bellingham in particular repeatedly caused danger between the lines. Rönnow parried a shot from the Englishman from almost five meters (10th). Joselu's header hit the crossbar (16').
So it seemed to be an expected development when Diogo Leite played the ball with his hand in the penalty area shortly before half-time. But Rönnow fended off Modric's weak penalty with his feet. In return, the ball slipped over David Alaba's foot during a clearance. Volland prevailed and scored to huge cheers. The 31-year-old scored in the third game in a row.
Ancelotti brought Kroos into the game in the second half. The Spaniards became more determined. Rönnow fended off a header from Rodrygo with an outstanding reflex (55th). Shortly afterwards he couldn't do anything against Joselu. After Berlin lost the ball, Real countered through Modric. Joselu, who was born in Stuttgart, was the goalscorer again with his header before Kral scored with a low shot. But it wasn't enough for the Iron team's first victory in the premier class.