BERLIN (AP) — United States forward Jordan Pefok scored on his Bundesliga debut to help Union Berlin defeat Hertha Berlin 3-1 in their first league game of the season on Saturday.
Pefok, who also scored on his debut in the German Cup on Monday, opened the scoring in the 31st to set Union on its way to a third consecutive league win over its rival – a fourth including their cup meeting last season – to keep the unofficial title of ”Stadtmeister” (city champion).
“Stadtmeister has a nice ring to it, but it’s only the first game,” Union captain Christopher Trimmel said. “(League) survival remains our aim.”
Pefok joined from Swiss team Young Boys in the offseason and has already become a fan favorite. He received a standing ovation along with teammate Genki Haraguchi when they were taken off late in the game.
Sheraldo Becker and Robin Knoche also scored to ensure Hertha’s difficult start to the season continued after its German Cup exit to second-division Eintracht Braunschweig last weekend. Hertha barely clinched survival last season and new coach Sandro Schwarz faces a tall order to restore the team’s confidence.
Tempers frayed outside before kickoff as road closures led to traffic chaos around Union’s Stadion an der Alten Försterei. Most fans were already inside the ground long before kickoff, but the tailbacks persevered, upsetting motorists who had nothing to do with the match.
The second half began with a cloud of blue smoke from pyrotechnics in the Hertha end. Seconds after the stadium announcer asked the visiting fans to desist, the Union supporters followed suit with a cloud of red smoke at the other end. A giant tifo declared “Once a Unioner, always a Unioner.” The stadium announcer’s appeals were ignored.
DORTMUND WINS OPENER
Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus’ early goal was enough for a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in a clash between teams that finished second and third last season.
New Dortmund signing Karim Adeyemi thought he scored but Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký somehow managed to keep the ball on the line until Reus arrived to scoop it in in the ninth minute.
Both sides suffered first half injury setbacks with Leverkusen’s Robert Andrich followed off by Adeyemi inside the first 25 minutes.
Nico Schlotterbeck, who required treatment in the second half, remained Dortmund’s only new signing on the field. Niklas Süle was watching from the stand and Sébastien Haller needs chemotherapy for a testicular tumor.
Leverkusen pushed hard for an equalizer and had two goals ruled out for offside in the second half.
But the visitors’ ill luck was confirmed when Hrádecký was sent off in injury time for grabbing the ball outside the penalty area, preventing a goal chance. The goalkeeper remained inside but stuck his arms over the line to grab the ball.
Also, cup finalist Freiburg routed Augsburg 4-0 away, Borussia Mönchengladbach defeated visiting Hoffenheim 3-1, Wolfsburg drew with promoted Werder Bremen 2-2, and Mainz won 2-1 in Bochum.
Ten-time defending champion Bayern Munich started the season with a 6-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday.
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