Marvin Friedrich (r.) In a header duel with Taras Kacharaba
Photo: MARTIN DIVISEK / EPA
Despite great struggle and commitment, Union Berlin missed a hoped-for opening success in the Conference League.
The team of coach Urs Fischer lost 1: 3 (0: 1) at Slavia Prague.
Alexander Bah (18th minute), Jan Kuchta (84th) and Ivan Schranz (88th) scored for the Czech league and cup winners, Kevin Behrens meanwhile equalized (70th).
After a 20-year absence from the European Cup, Union Berlin has returned to the international stage;
Seventh in the last Bundesliga season, the club was the first German team to qualify for the newly introduced and third European competition alongside the Champions League and Europa League.
In Prague, the Berliners wanted to play offensively - and initially they did: A shot by Max Kruse that rushed past the right goal post set the first exclamation mark (2nd).
On the other side, Bah appeared freely in the back area after an inadequately cleared corner, Andreas Luthe could not parry the multiple shot from distance (18th).
Union courage to attack did not last long, Slavia took control of the game.
The Portuguese referee Fábio Veríssimo, who repeatedly rated foul play with yellow, caused displeasure among the players.
After 36 minutes, however, he was not to blame.
Paul Jaeckel, who had already been warned, had to rightly with yellow-red from the field for the clumsy prevention of a counterattack, and Union had 45 minutes outnumbered by the still dominant Prague players.
An enormously demanding task, because Slavia has not lost a game in their own stadium in the domestic league for almost three years.
Ibrahim Traoré left no doubt that another home win would follow: He opened the second half, but circled his attempt from the backcourt just past the left post (48th).
And the iron ones?
They found it difficult, but suddenly cheered.
After a fast counter-attack, Kruse served Taiwo Awoniyi, who pushed in from close range, but was too far ahead and thus offside (57th).
But the 3,000 Union fans who had traveled with them were allowed to celebrate a valid goal in the 70th minute.
Substitute Behrens remained nervous after a cross from Sheraldo Becker and pushed the ball past the keeper into the goal.
Slavia's shock out of nowhere
The renewed Prague lead was extremely surprising and happy: Nicolae Stancius' long-range shot deflected Robin Knoche towards Kuchta.
Easy for the previously substituted attacker (84th).
Schranz made the decision, the second Joker hit the short corner, Luthe looked unhappy (88th).
Slavia, who won the championship and cup double unbeaten last season, failed first in qualifying for the Champions League and then in qualifying for the Europa League.
Now the Czechs are leading Group E in the Conference League.
The other opponents Maccabi Haifa and Feyenoord Rotterdam already played 0-0 on Tuesday.
Union Berlin is currently last.
All results and tables of the Conference League can be found in the SPIEGEL Sports Center.