UEL RO16: Victor Boniface nets brace against Union Berlin in six-goal thriller
Nigerian striker scores fifth goal in Europa League
Union Saint-Gilloise striker Victor Boniface scored a brace for the Belgian side as they played out a 3-3 draw away to Union Berlin in their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg. The Nigerian striker took his tally to 12 in all competitions this season.
After a tense opening to the game, Boniface opened the scoring two minutes shy of the half-hour mark. The striker received a pass from Yorbe Vertessen on the edge of the box before sharply turning and firing an effort at goal which took a huge deflection off a defender to loop over the stranded goalkeeper and into the net.
With half-time approaching, the German side found a special leveller through Croatian right-back Josip Juranovic. The former Celtic man fired home an inch-perfect free-kick in the 42nd minute to keep both sides level at the break.
Vertessen added his name to the scoresheet in the 58th minute as he finished off a counter after receiving a pass in the box from Loic Lapoussin. The Belgian youngster restored the lead for the away side.
Union Berlin responded in the 69th minute as Robin Knoche scored from a rebound after the goalkeeper saved his penalty to draw his side level once more.
Just three minutes later, however, Victor Boniface put his side ahead once more as they caught the home side out with a brilliant counter attack. Bart Nieuwkoop put the ball on a plate for the 22-year-old, who calmly slid his effort under the onrushing goalkeeper for his fifth goal in the competition this season.
Union Berlin found a late equaliser in the 89th minute through striker Sven Michel to tie the match. Neither side managed to find a winner as the match ended level in Germany. The sides will now face each other again in Belgium next week with a quarterfinal place on the line.