BERLIN (AP) — Former Germany striker Max Kruse launched Union Berlin to a 4-0 rout of Mainz for its biggest ever Bundesliga win and its first of the season on Friday.
Finland forward Joel Pohjanpalo also scored, just seconds after coming on for his debut, to wrap up an unhappy start for new Mainz coach Jan-Moritz Lichte.
Former assistant coach Lichte took over Mainz on an interim basis on Monday when the club fired Achim Beierlorzer after losing its first two games and players boycotted a training session in support of a demoted player, Adam Szalai.
Union, which is bidding to survive its second season in the Bundesliga, has no such problems.
Kruse opened the scoring in the 13th minute with his first goal on his first start for the club. Sheraldo Becker crossed from the right and Kruse’s powerful header set off celebrations among the socially distanced supporters in attendance.
Up to 4,400 fans were allowed in Stadion an der Alten Forsterei under measures designed to combat the risk of coronavirus infections. Normally 22,000 would attend.
Union continued pushing forward against the harmless visitors, but failed to convert any more chances before the break.
That changed early in the second half, when Union captain Christopher Trimmel had plenty of space to cross for Marcus Ingvartsen to convert from close range.
Marvin Friedrich scored with a header to a free kick in the 63rd, and Pohjanpalo made the most of more lackluster defending when he scored a minute later. The goal came seconds after the Finland forward came on in place of Kruse for his Union debut after joining on loan from Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.
»We were there at the right moments,» Union coach Urs Fischer said. »Now we have to keep our feet on the ground.»
Lorius Karius, who joined Union on loan from Liverpool, was forced to wait for his debut as Fischer kept faith with Andreas Luthe in goal.
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