BRAGA, Portugal (AP) — Union Berlin failed to take advantage of having a player more in coach Nenad Bjelica’s debut on Wednesday as 10-man Braga fought back to draw 1-1 in the Champions League.
Union’s winless run stretched to 15 games across all competitions. Unable to finish in the top two, Union needs to beat Real Madrid at home in their final group stage match on Dec. 12 to have any hope of remaining in European competition this season. Union has drawn two and lost three of its five group games so far.
Madrid, which was already assured of its place in the last 16, beat Napoli 4-2 to win Group C.
Bjelica made his debut three days after he was unveiled as Urs Fischer’s replacement. Union enjoyed unprecedented success in 5 1/2 seasons under Fischer, but this season has not gone to plan.
Braga dominated the early exchanges Wednesday with Jérôme Roussillon blocking Simon Banza’s effort, before Álvaro Djaló headed just wide in the 28th.
Referee Clement Turpin booked Braga defender Sikou Niakaté for catching the back of Kevin Behrens’ heal with his boot, then revised the decision and showed a red card in the 30th after a VAR check.
It gave Union all the encouragement it needed to push forward. Roussillon played the ball in for Robin Gosens to score in the 42nd.
Union goalkeeper Frederick Rønnow saved José Fonte’s effort and both Serdar Saatç? and Djaló had shots off the line as Braga sought a response before the break.
But Braga didn’t let up after it, either. Ricardo Horta played the ball through the visitors’ defense for Djaló to equalize in the 51st.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer