The young Nigerian striker grabbed a brace as his team survived a late scare in Berlin on Thursday night
Live at the Stadion an Der Alten Försterei – He came, he saw, and he scored, twice! Victor Boniface gave a performance to remember in Union Saint Gilloise‘s first leg Round of 16 Europa League game against Union Berlin at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei on Thursday night.
On a wet, snowy night, the big 6”2 In Nigerian scored a goal in each half to lead USG to a 3-3 draw ahead of the second leg next week. The two teams had met in the group stages, where they had reversed 1–0 wins away from home.
This time Boniface came to Taiwo Awoniyi’s former ground to deliver a masterclass in effective ball control and space reading to the surprise of the home team and the delight of the visiting fans.
The 22-year-old former Flying Eagles striker scored his first goal 28 minutes from the kick-off when he found space outside the box to shoot into the top right-hand corner, with Frederik Rennow left to watch the ball sail into his net after an unfortunate deflection by one of his defenders.
Boniface celebrated his goal coolly in front of the visiting Saint-Gilloise fans, who had turned on the heat with their pyrotechnic fireworks, flooding the stadium with smoke after the flames drained out just before the game kicked off.
— Lolade Adewuyi (@Jololade) March 9, 2023
The hosts clawed their way back into the game in the 42nd minute of the game when Josip Juranovic culled home a superb free kick from outside the box that saw Anthony Moris unable to keep it out.
The visitors went back into the lead after halftime when Yorbe Vertessen got on the end of a pass after Löic Lapoussin’s sprint down the middle set him up to strike it past Rennow.
However, the hosts would not give up so easily, and they got back level when the VAR adjudged Christian Burgess to have deliberately handled the ball inside the box. Robin Knoche stepped up to the spot and needed a rebound effort to beat Moris after the goalkeeper parried his initial kick right back into his lane.
But Boniface would return the visitors into the lead on 72 minutes when he read the run of Bart Nieuwkoop and placed the pass beyond Rennow to the astonishment of the home fans. One angry fan hurled a cup of beer towards the Nigerian as Boniface’s celebration in front of the Union ultras irked them.
Coach Urs Fischer threw his bench onto the game as he brought on Sven Michel and two other players to rescue the match. It was a gamble that paid off for the Irons when Michel scored on 89 minutes to turn the game on its head and make for a nervy but interesting ending.
Both teams will renew their rivalry on March 16 at the Lotto Park in Anderlecht. Boniface will have a lot to prove on home ground.
The Nigerian has now scored five goals in the Europa League this season.