Awoniyi, Akpoguma score in four-goal thriller at Rheine-Neckar Arena

 

Nigeria internationals, Taiwo Awoniyi and Kevin Akpoguma were both on target as Hoffenheim and Union Berlin played out a scintillating 2-2 draw in the German Bundesliga on Sunday.

The Super Eagles stars were in different sides of the pitch in the matchday 2 fixture at Rheine-Neckar Arena, and that was the second time they found themselves in that kind of situation in the last nine months.

 

Taiwo Awoniyi

They first faced each other in the Bundesliga on November 2, 2020 and on that occasion, Hoffenheim lost at home to Die Kraichgauer 3-1.

Both players, however, missed the reverse leg, which ended 1-1.

Hoffenheim and Union both kicked off their 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign on August 14, with the former earning a 4-0 win at Aubsburg while Union settled for a 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

After the opening day fixture, Hoffenheim were not in action until Sunday, but Union played against Finnish side KuPs in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

However, Union showed no signs of hangover — and it took them just ten minutes to take the lead, with Niko Gießelmann firing in from close range after his initial header had been blocked by Oliver Baumann.

Kevin Akpoguma

Four minutes later, defender Kevin Akpoguma headed into the bottom left corner — his second career bundesliga goal — from Angelo Stiller’s lofted pass to bring Hoffenheim level.

Max Kruse tried to put the visitors ahead on the 16the minute, but his left-footed free-kick from 30 yards crashed off the crossbar.

Few minutes later, Awoniyi went one-on-one against Baumann, but the the goalkeeper denied the summer signing from Liverpool.

Akpoguma’s Hoffenhaim went ahead for the first time at the half-hour mark through Jacob Bruun Larsen, who controlled a brilliant pass from Andrej Kramaric, before squeezing his strike beyond Union’s goalkeeper, Andreas Luthe.

However, Hoffenhaim’s narrow advantage was cancelled out within 120 seconds of the restart, by Awoniyi, who drove in a rebound from a tight angle, for his second bundesliga goal of the season and fourth in all competitions, after Baumann failed to parry his initial effort.

Union continued to push for a winner as Kruse combined with Awoniyi, only for his goal-bound effort to be pushed wide by Baumann’s right hand.

At the other end, Sebastian Rudy was unable to keep his shot down, while Baumann thwarted Rani Khedira at close quarters with the last meaningful opportunity of the entertaining encounter.

Union ended the match with 10 men, following Marvin Friedrich’s late sending off for a second yellow card.

We were clearly superior in the first half; we showed a super reaction after going behind early on. The equaliser for 2-2 was unfortunate – and after that we were slightly lacking precision too,” Akpoguma said in a post-match reaction.

Awoniyi has now been directly involved in six goals for Union Berlin this season — following his assist against Türkgügü München in the German Cup, a goal against Bayer Leverkusen on Bundesliga matchday 1, and a brace as well as an assist against KuPS in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Awoniyi’s international team-mates Anthony Ujah and Suleiman Abdullahi were not listed by coach Urs Fisher for the game as both strikers are yet to feature for the Irons this season.

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