Leverkusen- Going into Saturday only Bayern had beaten Leverkusen twice so far this season. Hertha can now be added to that list after a superb display of defensive organization and clinical finishing gave Pal Dardai’s men a third win on the road in 2017/18. Valentino Lazaro finally opened his Hertha account with a cool finish in the first half, before Salomon Kalou added a second after the hour.
Lazaro and Kalou secure fantastic win in Leverkusen
A goal in either half was enough for Hertha to claim all three points against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, as the Blue and Whites returned to the capital with a 2-0 win.
There were three changes from Pal Dardai following last week’s draw with Hoffenheim. Rune Jarstein returned in goal for Thomas Kraft, while Arne Maier replaced Per Skjelbred and Fabian Lustenberger came in for Alex Esswein.
The signs were there from the off, as Hertha looked to exploit Leverkusen’s tiredness from the week with pace and force.
Valentino Lazaro forced an early corner and although it came to nothing it seemed to relax the visitors.
Chances stayed at a premium at both ends, but that was testament to the way Dardai’s men defended, although Jarstein did have to be alert to tip a dangerous header over the bar.
Salomon Kalou curled a shot just over the bar with half time approaching, but the ball was nestling in the bottom corner just a few seconds later after quick work from Selke and Darida set up Lazaro to calmly place the ball beyond Bernd Leno and wheel away in celebration of his first goal in a Hertha shirt.
The next goalscorer was somewhat more of a regular. Jonathan Tah misjudged a throw in and Kalou didn’t the asking twice, the Ivorian running through on goal to roll home the second and double Hertha’s advantage.
It would ultimately prove enough, though there were plenty of nervy moments for the travelling support, most notably when Leverkusen were awarded an indirect free kick just seven yards from goal.
Arne Maier provided the first block, before the home side struck the bar to begin a scramble that could have seen the ball end up anywhere. Thankfully, it was Jarstein who ended the melee with both hands on the ball.
Gloss could have been added towards the end, as Hertha’s pace on the break was again apparent, and Lazaro was inches from his second of the day in the closing stages when he rattled an effort off the bar from 12 yards.
The weekend had started with Leverkusen in carnival mood, but it was Hertha who took the party atmosphere back to Berlin.
Conclusion and Outlook
Hertha’s first win of 2018 and third away from the Olympiastadion this season keeps them in 11th, but moves them to 30 points and just four points off sixth-placed Schalke. Pal Dardai’s boys will kick off the Bundesliga’s matchday 23 by hosting Mainz 05 in Berlin next Friday night (20:30 CET)