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2-0! Hertha BSC win on Dardai debut

Hertha BSC beat Mainz 2-0 away from home.

Berlin - After the dismissal earlier in the week of head coach Jos Luhukay and his coaching team, Hertha legend Pal Dardai made his debut in the Hertha hot seat, alongside Co-trainer Rainer Widmayer away to Mainz on Bundesliga matchday 20 on Saturday afternoon (07.02.15). The new duo could hardly have made a better start as the capital city side ran out the 2-0 winners, in front of 26,756 inside toe Coface Arena. The victory saw Hertha BSC put two points between themselves and the relegation places. The win was all the more crucial because many sides around them in the lower region of the table also won. Dardai made several changes to the team which lost 0-1 at home to Leverkusen last time out: John Anthony Brooks and Jens Hegeler were in central defence, while Marvin Plattenhardt played at left back. Nico Schulz and Valentin Stocker returned to the team as did Per Skjelbred. The home side welcomed back Shinji Okazaki back after his participation in the Asia Cup tournament.

The home side took the early initiative while the visitors sat back waiting for a chance to hit them on the break. The first dangerous situation followed a set piece, as Pierre Bengtsson fired a direct free kick towards goal. Luckily for Hertha nad their huge contingent of travelling fans, keeper Thomas Kraft and skipper Fabian Lustenberger combined to clear the danger (3.). Hertha's first chance came after almost a quarter of an hour, after good combination work involving Schieber and Stocker ended in the ball being fed to Beerens, who sent a low shot fizzing just past the left hand upright (14.). Three minutes later Stocker found Schieber whose shot almost shaved the post it flew past (17.). Peter Pekarik and Per Skjelbred tried their luck from distance, but lacked accuraycy with their efforts.

Stocker sets up halftime lead

The visitors began to get a better grip on the game and broke the deadlock after 35 minutes. Home keeper Karius didn't notice that Stocker was behind him as he prepared to clear the ball up front. The Hertha striker challenged the surprised stopper who fouled him. Match referee Deniz Aytekin rightly pointed to the spot and sent the Mainz keeper off. Hegeler stepped up and sent the new keeper the wrong way and give his side the lead. Hertha did not sit back on their lead, but kept on pressuring Mainz as soon as they had the ball. After a short period of Mainz pressure Stocker was involved again as he nailed a shot onto a post. The rebound was easily slotted home by Beerens (42.). 2-0 to Hertha! The visitors took that lead with them into the break.

No changes were made by either side during halftime. Hertha carried on the good work by winning the majority of their challenges in midfield. Beerens was played into space and into a one on one situation with new keeper Kapino. But the Berliner was ruled to be offside (50.). Hertha's man-advantage ended on 59 minutes as captain Lustenberger was sent off for a second bookable offence for a silly foul in midfield. Dardai reacted by bringing on Peter Niemeyer and Hajime Hosogai for Stocker and Skjelbred. The home side upped the pressure up front, but there was no way past Hertha's central defensive duo of Hegeler and Brooks.

Herthaner hold on for crucial win

Mainz created chances for Malli (71.) and Bengtsson (73.), but a lack of accuracy and keeper Kraft kept them at bay. Dardai brought on an extra striker in Sandor Wagner for Beerens for the final 15 minutes or so.  Mainz had to open up which gave the visitors more space to hit them on the break, which they did rarely late on. Schieber pulled a shot from distance wide four minutes shy of full time. Two minutes later Bungert was suddenly bearing down on Kraft alone. Once again a combination of the keeper and Hegeler and Pekarik cleared the danger, and Hertha collected three crucial points.

Dardai and Co. have until Sunday (15.02.15) to prepare the team for their next "six-pointer" at home to SC Freiburg on matchday 21. That game kicks off at 3.30 pm at the Olympic stadium.

(rd,war/City-Press)

Teams, 27.05.2018
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