YoIn a game shortly before it was canceled due to massive fan protests. 1. FC Union Berlin achieved an important victory in the fight against relegation. During Nenad Bjelica's return to the bench after his suspension, the Iron Men defeated coach Niko Kovac's VfL Wolfsburg, who had not yet won this year, 1-0 (1-0) on a long afternoon at the An der Alten Försterei stadium.

“Everyone has their own point of view,” said Robin Knoche, who did not want to comment on the protests and simply said with a smile: “I still need some tennis balls, I'll take them.”

Play was interrupted for a total of more than 30 minutes after tennis balls were thrown by fans from both camps. The background is resistance to investors' plans german soccer league. The goal was scored by Danilho Doekhi (45+25). In the table, the Union team, which occupies 15th place in the Bundesliga, increased its lead over 1. FC Köln in the relegation zone to six points. The Rhinelanders have to play this Sunday against VfB Stuttgart.

It could have been a game with so many stories: the return of Bjelica, the Union team's reunion with new VfL striker Kevin Behrens, the Iron team's search for a right defender after three shortcomings for the position. But it was mainly an afternoon of protest.

“The message was received very, very clearly,” the stadium spokesperson, Christian Arbeit, who is also head of communication for the Berliners, stressed through the outside microphone. In another announcement he said: “We are very, very close to not being able to play this game anymore.”

There is no flow of the game.

The protest began from the beginning. Union fans loudly shouted the obligatory “God of football” as they introduced Bjelica, who was playing in the recovery match against FC Bayern. Leroy Sane He had touched his face twice and for this he was sanctioned by the DFB, but also by the union.

Both groups of fans went against the DFL with banners and shouts. Jonas Wind had the first chance for the visitors on the field, but he passed the ball to the goalkeeper from close range Frederik Rönnow not brought. On the other hand, Kevin Volland had the first opportunity for the locals.

There was no fluidity in the game. After a good 26 minutes, the first tennis balls flew onto the grass. When referee Matthias Jöllenbeck blew the whistle again after eleven minutes because he believed the situation had calmed down, more yellow felt balls fell onto the pitch. He sent both teams to the locker room, the fans first chanted “Tennis balls are not a crime” and then: “Goodbye.”

Fans underlined their position with banners such as “Private capital locusts without influence?” or “DFL Certified Investors: Funded with Saudi Blood Money.” As if nothing had happened, they began chanting as the game resumed. But soon after, tennis balls flew from the ranks of Wolfsburg fans. Another short break.

Wöllenbeck whistled for the last attempt, with an added time of almost 30 minutes in the first half alone. The fact that striker Doekhi scored the Union goal from a corner kick also raised hopes of a regular end to the match. “Generally, I look at it like this: a protest should hurt, because otherwise you won't see it or hear it. Of course, it's not ideal from a player's point of view, we're leading, so I'm taking something positive out of it,” Union captain Christopher Trimmel, who was sent off, said on Sky.

The Wolfsburg team was still looking for an equalizer, but Wind tested Rönnow again with a header (63'). In the end, Lower Saxony is hoping for its next league win since the 1-0 win against SV Darmstadt on December 16. All four of VfL's matches before the match against Union ended in draws.