Berlin- Hertha never like to make it easy for themselves, do they? When the whistle blew for half time on Saturday afternoon Pal Dardai’s boys were heading for another home humiliation against Cologne. Leonardo Bittencourt’s first half strike had given the Bundesliga’s bottom side the lead and Hertha had looked short of ideas.
But the half-time team talk worked wonders, and the boys in Blue and White turned proceedings in their favour thanks to a quickfire double from Davie Selke, who scored his first goal since January. The second strike was also the 1000th home goal for Hertha in Germany’s top division.
Arne Maier and Fabian Lustenberger were the two changes from last week’s loss in Mönchengladbach. Per Skjelbred and Vedad Ibisevic came into the side, as the captain lined up alongside Selke in a front two.
There seemed to be no hangover from last week’s late defeat, as Pal Dardai sent his side out to be positive from the off in Berlin.
Salomon Kalou forced a fine save from Timo Horn inside twenty seconds, as the boys went looking for a first home win of the year in the April sunshine.
Vedad Ibisevic had the next opening, but he was brilliantly denied by a last ditch tackle to preserve the 0-0 for the league’s battling bottom side.
There was even a suckerpunch for the home side before the break, as Bittencourt capitalized on a lapse in concentration at the back to poke the ball beyond Rune Jarstein.
Dardai stuck to his tactical guns at the break and pushed forward once more, throwing on Mathew Leckie to create a front three in place of Mitchell Weiser.
It worked wonders. Hertha were on the front foot from kick off and deservedly leveled when Selke collected Marvin Plattenhardt’s cross at the back post and rifled home the equalize to the relief of the Olympiastadion.
Mere minutes later and the youngster was pulling out his trademark celebration once more, as he steered home Plattenhardt’s cross-cum-shot to complete the comeback and get those in the stands on their feet once again.
From there those in Blue and White looked comfortable, and could even have added more, as Julian Schieber twice failed to find the target from a good position, and Selke also saw his chance of a first ever Bundesliga hattrick taken away by Horn.
There was one final moment of tension, as Jhon Cordoba found himself clean through late on, but he was unable to direct his lob over Jarstein and Hertha held on for a much-needed and long overdue three points in front of their own fans.
Conclusion and Outlook
The win, Hertha’s first at home in 2018 after a run of four draws and a defeat, moves them up to ninth in the Bundesliga table on 39 points, twelve clear of the relegation places and seven adrift of the race for Europe with four games left.
An away trip to Frankfurt is next up for Pal Dardai’s men, with the game in the CommerzbankArena set to kick off at 15:30 on Saturday.