European roundup: Union Berlin game suspended after further fan protests

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  • Hoffenheim investor Dietmar Hopp twice the subject of banners
    • Duván Zapata nets a hat-trick as Atalanta thrash Lecce 7-2

Tom Bassam –  The Guardian

Union Berlin fans display a banner insulting Hoffenheim club patron Dietmar Hopp during their draw with Wolfsburg. Photograph: Andreas Gora/AP

The Bundesliga saw further protests against Hoffenheim investor Dietmar Hopp on Sunday, twice prompting the referee to stop play during Wolfsburg and Union Berlin’s 2-2 draw.

Offensive banners insulting Hopp were unveiled by Union Berlin fans just before half-time prompting the referee to stop the game and order the players back into the dressing rooms. Union’s players went over to the home tribune to plead with fans to take down the banners, with captain Christopher Trimmel seen in direct conversation to one of the ultras in a bid to get the game re-started.

A later protest against the Deutscher Fußball-Bund’s (DFB) position on collective punishments and a perceived ‘currying of favour’ with Hopp saw the game stopped again as fans were warned that another indiscretion would lead to match being called off.

The incidents occurred after similar scenes at Hoffenheim’s Rhein-Neckar-Arena during Bayern Munich’s 6-0 win on Saturday. There Bayern players and executives also tried to intervene to get banners insulting Hoop taken down as the game was held up for 20 minutes.

Hopp has been a lightning rod for some German fans, who oppose the way he used his wealth to help Hoffenheim climb through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga with consecutive promotions more than a decade ago.

Union fans had more reasons to feel discontent after seeing their side surrender a two-goal lead and having to settle for a point. Strikes either side of the break from Sebastian Andersson and then Marvin Friedrich had put the hosts in full control and seemingly en route to victory. But Wolfsburg turned the tide when Friedrich Gerhardt pulled one back for Wolfsburg on the hour, heading home from a corner, before Wout Weghorst levelled the contest in the 82nd minute.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig and Bayer Levekusen also played out a draw. Leon Bailey put the visitors ahead in the 29th minute but the lead lasted little over 180 seconds as Patrik Schick headed home an equaliser to see game finish 1-1.

In Italy, fans at Lecce’s Via del Mare Stadium were checked by health officials as they entered the ground as part of national efforts to control the spread of coronavirus. Once inside home fans were subject to a further test of their patience as visitors Atalanta ran up a 7-2 victory.

 

Giulio Donati’s own goal put Gian Piero Gasperini’s high-flyers ahead in the 17th minute, with Duván Zapata doubling Atalanta’s advantage five minutes later. Lecce actually went into the break level as Riccardo Saponara and Giulio Donati ensured the score at half-time was 2-2.

In the second half Josip Ilicic quickly had Atalanta ahead again before Zapata completed his hat-trick with goals in the 54th and 62nd minute. Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi both scored late on to complete the rout and strengthen Atalanta’s foothold in Serie A’s Champions League spots.

Roma saw off a late push from Cagliari to win 4-3 at the Sardegna Arena. João Pedro gave the home side the lead just before the half hour mark but Nikola Kalinić equalised little more than a minute later. The Croatian put his team ahead before the break with Justin Kluivert extending the advantage in the 64th minute. Gastón Pereiro would briefly cut the deficit but Henrikh Mkhitaryan quickly restored two-goal Roma’s cushion. João Pedro made the final few minutes interesting with a late strike but Roma held on to stay in touch with the team’s above them.

In La Liga, a Raúl García’s penalty was enough for Athletic Bilbao to beat Villarreal at San Mamés. Elsewhere, Atlético Madrid’s faint hopes of a title challenge were dealt a further blow as they only managed a 1-1 draw at Espanyol. Stefan Savic put through his own net to gift the home side the lead in the first half before Saúl Ñíguez equalised for Atléti just after the break.

That result meant that Getafe would go up to fourth if they could win at Mallorca. Which, thanks to Nemanja Maksimović goal, the away side duly did. To add to Vicente Moreno’s frustrations Salva Sevilla saw red late on for complaining to the referee.

Lille are up fourth in Ligue 1 after Benjamin André’s lone effort was enough to give his side all three points at Nantes. The mid-table clash between Nice and Bordeaux ended all square, at 1-1.

 

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