Union Saint-Gilloise in stunning Europa League victory over Swedish champions

Union Saint-Gilloise in stunning Europa League victory over Swedish champions
Union's Siebe Van Der Heyden celebrates after winning the game between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and Swedish champions Malmo, Thursday 15 September 2022 in Leuven, on day 2 of the UEFA Europa League group stage. Credit: Belga / Johan Eyckens

Union Saint-Gilloise showed character to come back twice from behind against Swedish champions Malmö FF on Thursday evening on the second day of the Europa League group stages in Leuven.

Having fallen behind twice, the Brussels side won 3-2 in a game that was dominated by Union but often lookedas if things were not going go their way.

Joseph Ceesay gave the Swedish visitors the lead in the Den Dreef in Leuven in the 6th minute. Christian Burgess (17th) quickly equalised with a header. In the second half, Malmö took the lead for a second time with Isaac Kiese Thelin (57th), but Union turned the game on its head with successive goals from captain Teddy Teuma (69th) and new signing Victor Boniface (71st).

Match report

The Swedish champions started the match very well. After six minutes, Ceesay knocked it past Union goalkeeper Moris into the corner for 0-1. Karel Geraerts' Union team, however, responded after ten minutes, when Union's captain Teuma crossed the ball onto Burgess' head, who hit the back of the net for 1-1.

Union's Christian Burgess celebrates after scoring. Credit: Belga / Johan Eyckens

Lynen then hit Malmö goalkeeper Dahlin. After a free kick by Teuma, Kandouss kicked the ball in for a while, but he was narrowly offside. Kandouss was again close to making it 2-1 moments later, his deviation was reversed by Dahlin.

Just before the hour, there was another negative turn for Union.

Due to some poor defending from Union, Beijmo found an unmarked Thelin near the penalty spot, and the former RSC Anderlecht striker made it 1-2 to the visitors.

Teddy Teuma makes it 2-2. Credit: Belga / David Pintens

Union captain Teuma, however, brought his team level with a wonder goal from outside the box. And barely two minutes later, the score was 3-2.

After a nice combination with Lapoussin, Boniface found himself clean through to score the winning goal, sending the home crowd into a euphoria.

At the end of the game, the Belgian side still narrowly escaped Malmö's equaliser for 3-3, with Berget's header going over the bar.

After the 0-1 smash win against Union Berlin on the first day of Europe League group stage, Brussels' traditional club now has 6 points, and sits in second place in the standings. Braga, who won 1-0 against Union Berlin, leads with the same number of points.

Union's Victor Boniface celebrates after scoring. Credit: Belga / David Pintens

On the next match day, Union will make the trip to Portugal to play Braga on October 6, five days later the teams will play again in Leuven, in a duel between the two teams who share the group lead with six points.

“This record is a bit unexpected but once on the pitch, we just want to show our qualities. To have gained 6 points out of 6 is superb, particularly as we are making our debut in Europe. There are four games left and we are far from being qualified.”

Credit: Belga / David Pintens

This favourable outcome did not stop the Unionist technician from pointing out certain shortcomings. “Our start to the game was very bad with an avoidable goal. We did not follow the second ball. In the second half, another moment of hesitation cost us dearly. We must learn from these situations”, analyzed Geraerts.

“I saw a good reaction from my players. We started playing again with confidence, with movements and combinations. It was not necessary to have such a scenario but reacting is a quality.”

Union's head coach Karel Geraerts. Credit: Belga / David Pintens

On the lawn of the Den Dreef stadium, the former midfielder had a match “filled with emotions” with “goals falling at bizarre times”.

“It shows that you always have to believe in what you are doing, in the plan established before the game,” said Geraerts.

Union will play on Sunday in Eupen at 16:00, in the last match before the international break. Union's win against Malmö means Belgian teams are currently undefeated in all current European competitions.

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