At the double: Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko celebrates scoring (Odd ANDERSEN)
A second-half Benjamin Sesko double and a stunning goal from Xavi Simons took RB Leipzig to a 3-0 win at a ten-man Union Berlin on Sunday, the home side’s first loss in the German capital in 18 months.
Surprise Champions League participants Union had not lost in the league at home since February 2022, when they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, then coached by current Leipzig boss Marco Rose.
Leipzig, who started this season with a 3-0 Supercup thrashing of Bayern Munich, thundered out of the blocks, taking the lead shortly after thanks to a long-range Simons goal.
Union lost forward Kevin Volland to a straight red card shortly after, Leipzig’s Sesko scoring two goals in three minutes late in the game to wrap up the result.
Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl celebrated the “impressive style and manner” of his side’s “deserved” win but conceded “the red card definitely helped us a bit.”
Rose toasted Simons’ “beautiful goal” which “opened the game up” for his side to claim an “important win.”
Union manager Urs Fischer praised his side’s fight and said “it’s tough, against an opponent like RB, to create something with a man down”.
The battle between the only top-division teams from the former East is among the Bundesliga’s fiercest, with Union fans staging repeated protests against Leipzig’s ownership and the club’s approach to German football’s sacred member-ownership rules.
As has now become customary at the Alte Forsterei, Union fans greeted Leipzig with complete silence at the start of the match before roaring to life after 15 minutes.
Newcomer Volland went close early for the home side, his header forcing a desperate save by Leipzig goalkeeper Janis Blaswich.
Union held firm in defence in the opening half, forcing Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen and Xaver Schlager into long-range efforts before half-time.
Leipzig found their fluency and precision immediately in the second half.
The visitors took the lead with Germany midfielder Benjamin Henrichs teeing up Simons to score a stunner, the Paris Saint-Germain loanee thundering in from the edge of the box.
Trailing for the first time this season, Union’s push for an equaliser was derailed by a red card to Volland, the former Monaco forward sent from the field for a rash challenge on Mohamed Simakan.
Union made several changes as they pushed to keep their home record intact, but Sesko scored a double in the final five minutes — his first league goals for the club — to seal the win.
Despite Leipzig’s win breaking their 25-match unbeaten streak at home, Union fans were in full voice after the match.
Defender Robin Gosens told DAZN “it’s unique — we lost at home 3-0, deservedly so, but we’re celebrated like we won the Champions League.”
– Nkounkou rescues point –
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Niels Nkounkou scored on his debut with two minutes remaining to snatch a point in a 1-1 home draw against Cologne.
With Cologne holding onto a surprise lead against a dominant Frankfurt after a first-half penalty from captain Florian Kainz, Nkounkou came off the bench with the clock winding down.
The French defender, who signed from Saint Etienne on Friday, rattled in a winner ten minutes after coming on to send the home fans into raptures.
“We’re happy we can take a point” Frankfurt captain Kevin Trapp said after the match “a loss would have been bitter.”
An “unsatisfied” Kainz told DAZN “we need to live with the point – it’s fair”.
Frankfurt came into the match having lost key striker Randal Kolo Muani, who made a 95-million-euro ($102.5 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain just before the transfer window shut on Friday.
Despite just one season in the European financial capital, Kolo Muani had established himself at the heart of Frankfurt’s attack, scoring 15 and assisting 11 of the club’s 58 league goals.
Philipp Max stuck out a stray leg and connected with Eric Martel just before half-time.
Cologne captain Kainz stepped up to the spot and duly converted, the visitors taking a surprise 1-0 lead into the half despite being thoroughly outplayed.
With two minutes to go, Nkounko collected the ball in the box and blasted past Cologne goalkeeper Marvin Schwaebe, equalising for the home side.