Adeyemi’s Goal Exudes Grace

Adeyemi’s Goal Exudes Grace

At the conclusion of the match between 1. FC Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund, spectators at the Alte Försterei stadium did not follow the usual protocol of initially paying homage to their own team. Instead, they directed their frustrations at the referee, with shouts of “Hoyzer” erupting into a mighty chorus. This outcry was sparked by a controversial scene at the goal which ultimately led to the final score of 2-0 (90th), delivered by Dutch player Ian Maatsen. At that point in the game, Union seemed closer to equalizing the score rather than Dortmund securing victory.

The controversy stemmed from a play where Josip Juranovic lost the ball to Maatsen in the center circle. Maatsen seemed to not only hit the ball but also the Croatian’s foot before running solo towards the Köpenick goal. This incident raised a debate, primarily due to the referee’s rigorous game management up to that point. Union coach Nenad Bjelica later termed it a “50-50 decision”, implying that such decisions typically favor the more prominent teams and never the underdogs in his past experiences in Spain, Croatia, Poland, Austria, and Italy.

Bjelica, however, did not want to prolong the argument. Instead, he chose to be conciliatory, stating “You can whistle that. We accept that.” This statement provided Dortmund coach Edin Terzic with an ideal opportunity to express his relief that Maatsen had indeed played the ball.

The clash between Union and Dortmund was not going to be a typical football Saturday

Dortmund’s victory was not particularly impressive, but it was clear how much it helped to calm the team’s spirits after three consecutive games without a win. This was evident in Terzic’s relaxed demeanor. The victory helped Dortmund maintain their fourth place in the table against Leipzig, who also had a 4-1 win against VfL Bochum. BVB goalkeeper Alex Meyer summed it up saying, “That should definitely give us a boost, because it won’t be any easier in Bremen next week.”

The encounter was not expected to be a poetic Saturday. Union is a challenging team, and Dortmund has been through a rough patch. This is reflected in the recent speculations about Terzic’s professional future. The first 30 minutes of the game, in particular, were disappointing and the 1-0 lead at half-time, thanks to a goal from Karim Adeyemi (41′), was somewhat unexpected. The initial phase was, according to Terzic, a “continuation of the game against Hoffenheim” from the previous week, a match that Dortmund had lost 2:3.

The kick-off of the game was delayed due to smoke pots lit by Dortmund fans, which obscured the view and led to a brief interruption. Once the game resumed, Dortmund’s players seemed dazed and did not manage a single shot on goal in the first half-hour. Fortunately for them, Lucas Tousart missed the first chance of the game by pushing the ball past the left post from a tight angle (6th minute). Furthermore, every promising counterattack by Union ended up being a cross that went nowhere. “We made bad and wrong decisions before the penalty area,” Bjelica would later admit.

It became clear that Union could only be defeated through individual actions

After Union’s initial aggressive play, it became evident that Dortmund taking the lead wouldn’t necessarily disrupt the game’s flow. Dortmund’s first corner almost resulted in a goal as Adeyemi extended the ball with his Jackson Five memory hairstyle to the second post. Nico Schlotterbeck, however, aimed his shot from three meters almost directly at Union goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow (35th). Rönnow later showcased his exceptional goalkeeping skills by saving a tricky shot from Maatsen that was deflected by Julian Brandt. This indicated that individual actions could overcome Union’s defense. Adeyemi understood this, scoring the first goal for Dortmund (41st).

In the second half, Dortmund seemed more confident with their lead but became increasingly apathetic and uninspired offensively. While Dortmund’s coach Terzic replaced offensive players, seeking defensive stability, Union’s coach Bjelica clearly went on the attack. However, Union struggled to create chances. A double chance by Hollerbach and Kevin Volland (56′) was the only moment until the final phase when Union seemed really close to the goal. As the final minutes approached, Volland and Vertessen scored again. Union midfielder Andras Schäfer commented, “There was a lack of consistency.” Ian Maatsen, who was loaned from Chelsea in the winter, punished that in the end – with his first Bundesliga goal.