A miracle. That is what is required for KuPS to get to this autumn’s group game in the Conference League. In the home match at the Olympic Stadium, the Kuopio team saw itself run over by a hungry Union Berlin.
KuPS has taken several fine scalps during the qualifying summer and already now they have fixed a reward of over 750,000 euros for the success in the ECL qualifier.
If you had to get past Union Berlin in the playoff round and go to the group stage, you would have secured three million euros in prize money. But that scenario looks anything but realistic when the first sub-meeting is played.
The German league seven from last year, just like KuPS, have never played in a European tournament. And the Bundesliga team was really hungry tonight at the Olympic Stadium, where KuPS is forced to play at home as their own arena is not enough for UEFA’s demands.
The match pair felt decided already after half an hour. The first away goal came when Union wall played nicely on the left side and striker Taiwo Awoniyi controlled Tymoteusz Puchacz’s low innings.
The goal came in minute seven, just like when the same Awoniyi netted behind Leverkusen’s Lukas Hradecky last weekend. With less than half an hour played, the Nigerian assisted Max Kruse’s 2-0 goal, and a couple of minutes later the score was 0-3 when Kruse this time played until Awoniyi.
– They scored skilled goals, such as a big club does. They did not need much space to come to an end, KuPS defender Henri Toivmäki for Yle thinks.
Silent among the stadium’s 5,632 spectators after the brutal start of the guests? Everything else.
The away team that the red-clad Berlin team brought with them beat most Finnish football teams’ home heels. It was sometimes really smoky at one short side when the European-playing Berlin fans exposed the Bengals.
Union Berlin is not a team that is associated with high ball possession. There was also no need for total dominance in Helsinki after such an effective start.
KuPS had to keep the ball in the visitors’ half of the field in the second half. The Kuopio team came to some chances and had several corners – Henri Toivomäki nodded in the crossbar on just one as the match approached stoppage time.
– In others we were much better and could have netted, but the match was probably decided already in the first half, captain Toivomäki admitted.
Instead, the guests conceded another fourth goal at the end. Andreas Voglsammers 4-0 crowned an effective German effort.
– The result probably does not lie about the level difference between the teams, Anton Popovitch admitted in Veikkaus TV’s broadcast.
The Finnish team now has a giant uphill in front of me ahead of the return match, which will be played next week at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Not so the Union’s home ground Stadion An der Alten Försterei, which has too large a standing room to be approved for the European Games.
Qualifying for the Europa Conference League, playoff round:
KuPS – Union Berlin 0–4 (0–3)
7 ‘Taiwo Awoniyi 0–1
29′ Max Kruse 0–2
31 ‘Awoniyi 0–3
90 + 3 ‘Andreas Voglsammer 0–4
Public: 5 632
TPS–RoPS 2–3 (0–2)
28 ‘Simo Roiha 0–1
35 ‘Vertti Hänninen 0–2
52 ‘Hänninen 0–3
71′ Joakim Latonen 1–3
90 + 3 ‘Kasper Hämäläinen 2–3
Public: 1 209