Berlin- Hertha passed up a big opportunity to put themselves in the running for a European spot next season after slipping up at home to Mainz on Friday night. After last week’s clinical and solid display in Leverkusen, Pal Dardai’s team offered very little in front of their own fans on matchday 23, and two goals – one in either half – from the visitors’ Robin Quaison gave Mainz a deserved three points.
The evening was soured further for the home side by the fact Vedad Ibisevic suffered a broken nose in the first half, and the club captain was forced to come off just minutes into his first start of 2018.
Pal Dardai made two changes from the side that had won away at Leverkusen last Saturday, as Arne Maier was forced to miss the game with fever and Davie Selke spent most of the week recovering from a cold. Per Skjelbred moved into midfield while Vedad Ibisevic came in up top. The Bosnian started as captain, but gave the armband to Peter Pekerik after being forced off with a broken nose early on.
Off the back of such a positive and encouraging performance last week in Leverkusen, Hertha fans came to the Olympiastadion on Friday hopeful of a first home win of the year and a giant leap forward in the race for Europe.
But on the first Friday of the Berlin Film Festival, Hertha’s genre for matchday 23 was definitely more horror than action, as a flat performance left a lot to be desired against the side 16th in the Bundesliga, who had not won away all season.
Chances were few and far between, and while Salomon Kalou and Marvin Plattenhardt saw a lot of the ball down the left wing in the first half, Hertha were rarely able to trouble Robin Zentner in the away goal.
When they did get through the back, Valentino Lazaro was denied by a last-minute tackle before being able to pull the trigger.Rune Jarstein was called upon twice in the opening half hour to keep the Zerofivers out, but he could do nothing to stop Robin Quaison’s low effort from finding the bottom corner before half time.
It was a similar story the other side of the break, and while Hertha were comfortable in possession for long periods, there seemed to be no end product in and around the opponent’s penalty area and they were punished by a long ball with twenty minutes to go, with Quaison bagging his second after a low finish under Jarstein when one-on-one.
Peter Pekarik flashed a shot just wide after good work from Plattenhardt late on, and Selke was unlucky not to turn the ball home from Lazaro’s cross just prior to that but it was not be as Hertha lost in the Olympiastadion for the fourth time this campaign.
Conclusion and Outlook
The loss leaves Hertha 11th in the Bundesliga with 30 points after 23 matchdays, 13 points clear of Hamburg in 17th and four behind Schalke in sixth having played a game more. Dardai’s side will return to action in eight days time, when they travel to Munich to face runaway league leaders FC Bayern on Saturday, February 24th at 15:30.