VfL delivered a strong performance before the break, but failed to get any points. In the last match of the first half of the season against unbeaten Union Berlin, Bochum demonstrated in the first half that they belong to the league’s top teams. They hit the post twice and had more opportunities but didn’t manage to score. After the break, a dubious penalty – which was effortlessly converted by Polter – paved the way to victory for Union Berlin. In the final stages of the match, Union sealed victory with an example of perfect counterattacking football. VfL finishes the first half of the season with 24 points under their belt.   

For their final match of the first half of the season, Bochum travelled to the capital to face Union Berlin who had remained unbeaten in the first 16 matches of the season. Due to ongoing injuries, coach Robin Dutt had to do without a rather large number of players. Chung Yong Lee gave his comeback after a suspension and replaced Görkem Saglam who found himself on the bench. Besides, veteran defender Patrick Fabian started as centre back and Jan Gyamerah replaced Stefano Celozzi as right full back. Berlin coach Urs Fischer changed his side on four positions after their draw against Magdeburg last week. Hartel, Polter, Reichel and Parensen were in the starting line-up, whereas Kroos and Andersson featured as substitutes and Hübner and Lenz weren’t included in the squad.

The crowd of 20,728 spectators saw a dominant home side in the opening minutes of the match. Robert Zuli had the first opportunity for Berlin after a corner kick but his volley shot was well wide – as was Gyamerah’s left foot effort from the right corner of the box a minute later. Neither of the teams practised possession football but displayed great offensive drive. On 7 minutes, Hartel took a shot from just outside the box but his effort was brilliantly blocked by Soares. Then, Lee had the best chance of the match until that point. After a corner kick had been blocked by the Berlin defence, the South-Korean cracked a long-distance shot which took a deflection in the box and hit the post – what a stunner! A mere three minutes later, Bochum hit the woodwork again. Losilla flicked on a corner kick towards the far post and the ball fell to Hinterseer – but Berlin keeper Ginkiewicz saved on the goal line.       

Around the half hour mark, Soares took his chance with a long-distance effort and Ginkiewicz could not hold on to the ball so that a Berlin defender had to clear to a corner before Hinterseer could tap in. The away side went on to create another chance five minutes later. Hinterseer’s shot after a quick turn was cleared to the side and Bochum managed to get another cross into the box, but this time the Austrian striker headed the ball over the crossbar. Shortly afterwards, Berlin managed to get their first shot on target, but Zulj’s attempt was easily saved by Riemann. Before the half-time whistle each team had one more opportunity. Parensen’s cross reached Hartel and the Berlin midfielder headed the ball into the keeper’s arms. It got more dangerous moments later on the other side of the pitch when Lee made a great run into the box from the left and passed the ball into the centre where Hinterseer’s shot was blocked and Losilla fired the ball over the crossbar on the rebound. Then, the referee blew the half-time whistle and Bochum could look back on a strong performance having created the better chances up until that point.        

The second half of the match – which was played at temperatures just above freezing point – was kicked off without any substitutions having been made. From the start, Berlin created more pressure but the home side wasn’t able to convert that pressure into chances. Instead, Soares plucked up his courage again and made an attempt from a distance but his low shot was deflected to a corner kick. After 60 minutes, the referee signalled for a penalty kick against Bochum – yet another dubious penalty decision. Hoogland was supposed to have made contact with Polter who went to the ground ostentatiously. Polter converted the penalty himself to put the home side in the lead on 60 minutes. The hosts almost scored another goal 10 minutes later. After a free-kick had been taken quickly, the VfL defensive line was caught on the wrong foot and the freshly substituted Andersson ran clear towards Riemann but the VfL keeper prevailed. On 74 minutes, Berlin came close to scoring again when Zulj’s direct free-kick went just wide of the left post.            

VfL coach Dutt then replaced Sam with Saglam for the remaining 15 minutes of the game and the youngster took over the central position in midfield with Lee now operating from the flanks. Finally, the men in blue and white managed to put some pressure on the Berlin defence again and Soares’ well-aimed cross reached Hinterseer whose header wasn’t powerful enough though to cause any problems for Ginkiewicz. The same was true for Hoogland’s header after Lee’s cross five minutes from time. Berlin now sat back and defended with a deep defensive line and all the offensive efforts of Dutt’s team remained unsuccessful. Instead, Berlin managed to strike again. Zulj ran clear after a quick break and guided the ball past Riemann into the back of the net on 88 minutes. The ball did find its way into Berlin’s goal once after that. However, the referee signalled for offside and so the final score remained 2-0. Yet again Bochum played attractive football and managed to dominate a match for a considerable time but failed to convert their chances. And when one considers the penalty gift to Berlin, they weren’t particularly lucky either.    

With the away match against Köln next Friday (6.30 p.m.), Bochum’s football year will come to a close.

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