Union stun Freiburg in race for Europe as Leverkusen seal top-four spot

·3-min read
Union Berlin charged to a shock 4-1 win over Freiburg to seal European qualification for the second season in a row on Saturday (AFP/Thomas KIENZLE) (Thomas KIENZLE)

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer hailed an "amazing" achievement as his side stunned top-four hopefuls Freiburg with a 4-1 win on Saturday to seal a top-seven finish on a dramatic afternoon in the Bundesliga's race for Europe.

"It's amazing what the lads have managed to do this season," Fischer told Sky, after his side secured European qualification for the second year in a row.

Minnows Freiburg and Union have both been flying high this season, but it was the Berliners who soared on Saturday as they smashed in three first-half goals to put themselves on course for the Europa League in sixth and dent Freiburg's hopes of a fairytale Champions League berth.

Freiburg remain in fourth overnight, but will now drop out of the Champions League places if RB Leipzig beat Augsburg on Sunday.

Union, who were only promoted in 2019, still have an outside chance of reaching the Champions League, having moved within a point of Freiburg with one match remaining.

"It's incredible what we are managing to achieve year on year as such a small club," said Union midfielder Grischa Proemel.

Proemel gave Union the lead early on, bundling the ball over the line from close range after Taiwo Awoniyi's effort hit the post.

Lucas Hoeler had an equaliser ruled out for handball before Union captain Christopher Trimmel headed in Sheraldo Becker's cross on the half-hour mark.

Becker then rampaged down the right wing to give his side a 3-0 lead at half-time and leave the home fans shellshocked.

Hoeler gave Freiburg fresh hope on the hour mark when he wriggled free of the back line to poke a long ball into the bottom corner.

But substitute Andras Schafer added a fourth for Union to end any hopes of a home comeback.

- Leverkusen reach Champions League -

While Freiburg were left to a rue a missed opportunity, third-placed Bayer Leverkusen secured Champions League qualification as Czech striker Patrik Schick fired them to a 4-2 win at Hoffenheim.

French striker Georginio Rutter gave Hoffenheim an early lead after a mistake from Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapie.

Schick then brought the visitors level with an elegant, first-time finish, but Christoph Baumgartner restored the lead with a header just two minutes later.

Yet Leverkusen turned the game on its head with two goals in three minutes in the second half.

Moussa Diaby slotted in an equaliser on 73 minutes, and Schick danced through the box to make it 3-2 moments later before Lucas Alario struck in stoppage time.

"We are really happy. We missed out on the Champions League in the last two years, so it was our big goal this season," Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes told Sky.

Hoffenheim's defeat means that Cologne are also effectively guaranteed European football next season with a top-seven finish, despite losing 1-0 at home to Wolfsburg.

Former Cologne player Yannick Gerhardt scored just before half-time to give Wolfsburg an unexpected win, but delirious Cologne fans still invaded the pitch to celebrate at full-time.

Elsewhere, Julian Brandt scored twice as Borussia Dortmund cruised to a 4-1 win against relegated side Greuther Fuerth to secure second place.

Jessic Ngankam cancelled out Brandt's first-half opener with a delicate chip on 70 minutes, but the German forward immediately restored the lead at the other end.

Felix Passlack added a third shortly afterwards, and England's Jude Bellingham had a fourth ruled out by VAR.

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