Openda, Sesko take Leipzig past Union

Leipzig’s Belgian forward #17 Lois Openda (C) and Union Berlin’s German defender #06 Robin Gosens (R) vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match between RB Leipzig and Union Berlin in Leipzig, eastern Germany on February 4, 2024. AFP

Goals from Lois Openda and Benjamin Sesko took RB Leipzig to a comfortable 2-0 home win over Union Berlin on Sunday, the Saxons’ first Bundesliga victory since December.

In teeming rain, Leipzig rediscovered their attacking fluency, with Dani Olmo again impressing.

Leipzig came into the match as the only Bundesliga side not to pick up a point since the winter break, allowing Borussia Dortmund to overtake them into the Champions League places.

Leipzig welcomed back goalkeeper and captain Peter Gulacsi, who was playing his first league game since October 2022 after a knee injury, as well as defender Willi Orban.

“Of course it’s really nice. This here is my city, my stadium, and I’ve experienced so much here. To stand on the pitch again in the Bundesliga is something special,” Gulacsi told DAZN.

Orban started for the first time in five months.

“It hasn’t been an easy phase for us to start the new year, but we know what we are able to do,” he said.

“We deserved to win — now we need to keep going.”

Openda slammed in a rebound on 11 minutes to raise his tally to 14 league goals this season.

Sesko doubled Leipzig’s lead shortly after half-time, heading in a curling cross from David Raum.

The Slovenian found the net again nine minutes later but the goal was struck off by VAR for a narrow offside in the build-up.

The VAR intervention seemed to shock Union into life, with the visitors roaming forward and pressuring the Leipzig defence.

Any hopes of an Union comeback were snuffed out with just over a quarter of an hour remaining however, when defender Christopher Trimmel saw straight red for sinking his studs into Raum’s foot.

The win took Leipzig one point behind fourth-placed Dortmund.

Union, who played their debut Champions League campaign earlier in the season, remain just two points and one place above the relegation playoff spot.

The Berliners have a game in hand to be played at fellow strugglers Mainz on Wednesday.

“On Wednesday we play a really, really important game,” said assistant coach Marie-Louise Eta.

“The boys fought hard today despite some setbacks and we’ll take that with us to Mainz.”

Earlier on Sunday, Wolfsburg came from behind twice to draw 2-2 at home with Hoffenheim, with Croatia midfielder Lovro Majer scoring twice for the hosts.

This was Wolfsburg’s fourth draw in a row and left them in 11th, while Hoffenheim are eighth, two places and five points outside the European berths.

Majer was subbed on early in the second half with Hoffenheim 1-0 up thanks to a classy solo goal from Maximilian Beier after just six minutes.

Beier, 21, danced down the left flank before rocketing a shot across the face of goal for the opener, the German scoring his eighth goal of the campaign.

Majer levelled just two minutes after coming off the bench with a smart left-footed finish, only for Hoffenheim to take the lead again when Grischa Proemel pounced on a poor pass from Wolfsburg ‘keeper Koen Casteels.

Majer then dragged Wolfsburg level once more, winning and converting a penalty for his fourth league goal since arriving from Ligue 1 side Rennes in the summer.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!