Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi bounces from Nigeria snub in style

Striker Taiwo Awoniyi bounced back from his 2022 World Cup qualifying snub by Nigeria to fire Union Berlin past Cologne in the Bundesliga assignment on Friday evening.

The former Liverpool attacker was overlooked by the Super Eagles in their bid to get past Ghana in the play-off. Nigeria were eventually eliminated on the away goals rule after a 1-1 aggregate score.

In the Bundesliga, it was the visitors who started on a high at the An der Alten Forsterei Stadium coming close in several instances. Their best chance was in the 22nd minute when Mark Uth headed narrowly wide from close range.

Rani Khedira replied for the hosts in the 35th minute when he was let loose on the edge of the area, but his placed effort missed the target by inches.

The last meaningful attempt for either side fell to Koln’s Jonas Hector in the 39th minute when a rebound kindly fell on his path, but his effort was parried by the goalkeeper for an unfruitful corner.

Four minutes after the break, Jonas Hector gave a poor pass in the danger zone and Awoniyi pounced on it and stabilized himself before cooly slotting past the goalkeeper to score his 12th goal of the season.

In the 63rd minute, Timo Baumgart could have doubled the advantage but failed to connect a well-taken free-kick into the danger zone.

Awoniyi looked lively throughout the game, trying to push the ball forward with every opportunity that came his way.

With three minutes to go, the 24-year-old danced past several Koln defenders, but goalkeeper Marvin Schwabe pulled a stunning save to keep his team in the game.

The attempt happened to be his last contribution; a minute later, he was substituted with Kevin Behrens taking his place.

However, it mattered less since he had played his part in helping his team get into seventh position and closer to the Europa Conference League spot.

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