Bundesliga: Racism allegation overshadows Union Berlin's win over Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nadiem Amiri, who was born in Germany to Afghan parents, was seen having a heated exchange with a group of Union players. Teammate Jonathan Tah later told that Amiri was racially abused.

The Associated Press January 16, 2021 09:05:49 IST
Bundesliga: Racism allegation overshadows Union Berlin's win over Bayer Leverkusen

Union Berlin's coach Urs Fischer (L) and defender Christopher Lenz hold Nadiem Amiri after the between Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin. AP

Substitute Cedric Teuchert scored late for Union Berlin to stun third-placed Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 and move to fourth in the Bundesliga on Friday.

Teuchert came on for the injured Sheraldo Becker midway through the first half and missed chances before finally beating Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky in the 88th minute after a brilliant through ball from Christopher Lenz.

“A few good counterattacks before we eventually get the goal. An amazing win,” Union forward Marcus Ingvartsen said.

The game ended on a sour note, however, with Leverkusen midfielder Nadiem Amiri angrily approaching Union midfielder Florian Hübner and pointing his finger in his face. Union coach Urs Fischer attempted to console the furious Amiri.

Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah told broadcaster DAZN that Amiri was abused by an opponent who used a racially charged term referring to the Germany midfielder’s Afghan background.

“It doesn’t belong on the football pitch, no matter how emotional things get,” Tah said. “It’s the most bitter part of the evening. I hope there are consequences.”

Fischer said he missed the alleged incident.

“I heard there were words on the pitch that have no place on the pitch,” Fischer said. “I heard from both sides that words were exchanged between two sides.”

Leverkusen dominated possession but lacked efficiency and slumped to its third defeat in four games. Peter Bosz’s team had been unbeaten before losing at home to Bayern Munich 2-1 on 19 December and it hasn’t won since.

Union is surprising many in its second Bundesliga season, a season in which it had been expected to be fighting relegation. It has already taken points from Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Wolfsburg. It has the second best offense with 32 goals. Only Bayern has more.

“We stepped up this season a lot. Our organization is perfect almost every game,” Ingvartsen said after Union stretched its unbeaten run to six games. “We know our basics and we’ve been much better on the ball this season. We create much more. We come out as another team (compared) to last season. I think every one, as an individual and as a team, has developed.”

Union came closest to scoring early on when Marvin Friedrich’s header touched the outside of the left post in the 15th minute.

The home side had to bring on Teuchert for Becker in the 24th after the speedy forward injured his left ankle in a tussle for the ball with Edmond Tapsoba.

Union went even closer early in the second half, when Teuchert found himself totally free in front of Hradecky and aimed for the right corner, only to see his shot come back off the inside of the post and rebound across the goal-line before grazing the other post.

Teuchert went close again in the 61st after some fine play from Ingvartsen to set him up, and the near miss spurred the visitors to respond. Leon Bailey and Patrik Schick were both blocked.

Teuchert’s persistence finally paid off, however.

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