Kevin Volland brace helps Lions tame Berlin
Allianz Arena, Munich - TSV 1860 München took a giant stride up the table today as they planted themselves confidently into fourth place with a 3-1 win at home to 1.FC Union Berlin. (Editor's note: after FC Energie Cottbus' draw Monday night, 1860 are now 5th in the Bundesliga second divsion.)
Kevin Volland was the hero of the day, scoring two and then turning provider when he set up Stefan Aigner to head home the third. Union Berlin went into the half time break all square at one a piece, John Jairo Mosquera leveling just 2 minutes after Volland's opener but were ultimately made to pay for their mistakes by a ruthless 1860 strike force.
From the kick off Union made their physical presence known and conceded two free kicks inside the first minute of play. Daniel Bierofka and Volland the recipients of two clumsy challenges. Berlin didn't leave it there. After 10 minutes Volland was played through midway inside the visitors half and was wildly hacked down from behind by Markus Karl. Karl gave the referee no choice but to make his the first name of the afternoon to go into the book.
Volland continued his assault on the Berlin defence and gave them all sorts of problems when he went forward. His movement and control was good today, a big improvement from the last home game.
Benjamin Lauth must have felt a little bit of a spare part for the first quarter of an hour but he soon got himself involved in the action. The captain had two excellent opportunities. The first on 17 minutes when Volland played him in to run behind the defence. Sadly for the Lions his first touch was heavy and he had to rush his shot in the penalty area. He could only watch as it sailed over the bar.
A minute later Daniel Halfar was the provider with a great cross which Lauth headed toward goal. That effort had power and direction and forced the keeper into making a good save.
The 22,000 home fans patiently waited until the 22nd minute before they got something to celebrate. A superb volley steered into the net from an Aigner cross that found Volland onside as he made a run into the area. A cool finish from the German under-19 international, on loan from Hoffenheim.
The lead didn't last long. Mosquera pulled an equalizer back for Berlin two minutes later when he headed in from close range at the far post. The cross was played in long from wide on the right and landed on Mosquera's head, timing his run perfectly to nod in under little pressure from Kai Bulöw.
The rest of the first half was played out with Berlin applying much of the pressure and 1860 allowing them to. Christopher Schindler and Bulöw both guilty of being far too casual in possession and easily robbed of the ball. I think an experienced head like Colin Benjamin (injured) was needed today. Nevertheless, the score remained one each at the half time whistle.
The second half kicked off and for almost 10 minutes both sides simply cancelled each other out. Bierofka the main man breaking up things in the midfield. He could have done with some more help from Dominik Stahl who went missing for much of the game.
The Lions took back the advantage in the 53rd minute when Lauth made a surging run into the penalty area. When everyone thought he would pull the trigger, he selflessly squared the ball to leave Volland to sweep the ball over the line from 10 yards out.
Before the reporters could finish making their notes and the commentators could catch their breath, Sechzig scored again! From the first restart the hosts wrestled back possession, Volland this time went on a run, left of the area and skillfully set the up for Aigner at the back post to dive onto the cross and nod the ball between the keepers legs and in.
By this time Berlin were getting frustrated and Michael Parensen needlessly lashed out to earn himself a yellow card, the second of the game. Left back Arne Feick also got booked for what can only be described as a pointless and rash challenge in the opposition half. With no imminent threat from Berlin, Feick wildly swung his leg out right in front of the referee. A needless booking.
1860 manager Reiner Maurer decided to give Volland a rest with 20 minutes left to play. Volland had run after almost every ball and chased down everything within his vicinity. He left the field to a standing ovation and with 2 goals and 1 assist he thoroughly deserved it. Manual Schäffler took his place up front.
Bierofka and Aigner were also replaced by Sebastien Maier and Sandro Kaiser respectively and the game ended with the Lions recording their fourth win from six games.
After the match Kevin Volland was clearly delighted with his performance. "In Dusseldorf we did not play our best game but today we proved to be focused and we fought for every ball." He also had a promise to Aigner to fulfill. "Aigner told me after he brilliantly assisted my goal that he wished I could do the same for him. I told him I would and when I saw him in the box I put the ball in for him."
If there is anything for the Lions fans to be concerned about then it's that they are missing a solid centre half. Bülow, Schindler and Buck have all played the position adequately this season but none instill any confidence and look very unorganized at times. If Benjamin is fit then he needs to be in consideration for a starting place if Sechzig are to be expected to grab any points when they go on the road in 2 weeks time after the international break.
The Lions travel to Hamburg to take on FC St. Pauli who occupy second place, but lost for the first time this season, going down 1-0 at Eintracht Braunschweig over the weekend. Maurer knows that taking even a point away from the Millntor Stadium is going to be a big ask of his team.