Robin Knoche's late winner secured Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin a vital 1-0 victory over Sweden's Malmo FF in UEFA Europa League Group D on Thursday.After an unspectacular first half, Union started the second half brightly and produced the first chance of the game after Rani Khedira rattled the post with a hammer from 20 meters in the 63rd minute.
Union increased the pressure and had another chance on target moments later when Ismael Diawara had to save Jordan Siebatcheu's backheeled attempt from very close range, reports Xinhua.The hosts eventually broke the deadlock through Knoche after Malmo's Emmanuel Lomotey brought down Kevin Behrens inside the box.
Things went from bad to worse a couple of minutes later for Malmo as the visitors had to conclude the match with ten men after Lomotey saw a straight red card for a reckless challenge against Sheraldo Becker.
"We didn't play well in the first half. The second half was better. We stayed calm and rewarded ourselves in the end. We knew we wouldn't get many chances, but we kept trying," said Union captain Christopher Trimmel.
Meanwhile in the UEFA Conference League, Israeli club Hapoel Beer Sheva and Polish champions Lech Poznan drew 1-1 on the fourth matchday of Group C on Thursday evening.Following the draw, Poznan have five points and remain in second place, while Beer Sheva stay third with three points.
Villarreal, who achieved an away 1-0 win over Austria Wien earlier in the evening, have reached full 12 points, securing first place in the group and a spot in the round of 16 to be played in March. The Austrians remain in fourth place with one point.
11,654 fans at the Toto Turner Stadium saw home striker Tomer Hemed score from the penalty spot in the ninth minute after Poznan's Joel Pereira had brought down Shay Elias.Hemed almost doubled the lead in the 37th minute with a header, but the ball hit the crossbar.
Poznan evened the scores in the 44th minute thanks to striker Filip Szymczak, after a headed pass by Filip Dagerstal.The score remained the same until the end, after a calm second half without serious scoring chances.
Beer Sheva will next play against Villarreal in Spain, while Poznan will play in Austria, with both matches to be played on October 27.