Berlin- Hoffenheim’s last visit to the Olympiastadion saw them end Hertha’s hopes of Champions League football last March.
This time around, it was a level playing field, and the hosts would not have been undeserving of going home with the balance tipped in their favour after an impressive showing in a cold capital.
Andrej Kramaric’s first half penalty against the run of play was cancelled out by Salomon Kalou after the break as Hertha recorded their third straight draw.
Pal Dardai made three changes from last week’s draw with Bremen. Alex Esswein replaced Ondrej Duda, while Arne Maier made way for Vladimir Darida. Fabian Lustenberger failed to fully recover from his concussion last week, so Jordan Torunarigha started at the heart of the defence.
If last week had seen Hertha ride the storm and have their back to the walls in Bremen, this week saw the boys in Blue and White come out with purpose, intent on causing the side that ended their Champions League dreams last season problems.
The early stages saw Hertha go through Valentino Lazaro on the left, and the young Austrian’s pace looked like being Hertha’s best way through, although the closest either side came to opening the scoring was when Peter Pekarik drove home after the whistle had already been called for a foul.
Pekarik, who had scored his first Bundesliga goal for Hertha in the same fixture last season, almost made history repeat itself when he found himself on the end of a lovely flowing move that involved Lazaro, Selke, Darida and Esswein and had been preceded by two minutes of solid and patient build-up play.
It was only towards the end of the half that Hoffenheim began to look dangerous, and they were given a chance to take the lead when Stark was adjudged to have fouled Nico Schulz in the area. Andrej Kramaric dispatched the resulting spot kick to send Hertha in behind at half time.
Undeterred by the deficit, Hertha came out stronger and again enjoyed more of the play on a cold and grey day in Berlin.
But Lazaro was still running, and as long as the 21-year-old had the legs he was a constant threat. It was no surprise that when the goal came, Valentino was involved.
Another mazy run down the right ended with a delightful ball across the Hoffenheim back line, and it was left for Kalou to charge his way from the edge of the box to beat everyone to the ball and head home to the delight and relief of the Olympiastadion.
Both teams went looking for the winner late on, and there were chances at both end, as first Kraft pulled off a wonderful save to keep the point, and then Vladimir Darida’s pass at the other end was just too short for Lazaro as Hertha broke from the resulting corner to try and claim all three points at the death.
Conclusion and Outlook
The point, Hertha’s third in the row, moves them up to 10th in the Bundesliga and brings their tally to 27 after 21 matchdays. Next Saturday sees Hertha travel to the BayArena for a 15:30 kick off with second-placed Leverkusen.