Gelsenkirchen- A lot of huffing, a lot of puffing, but no scoring. That was the story of Hertha’s afternoon against the Royal Blues from the Revier, as a first half strike from Marco Pjaca was enough to condemn Hertha to just their second away defeat of 2018.
Davie Selke, Niklas Stark and Salomon Kalou all had good chances to get what would have been a deserved point, but the home side held firm to record a 1-0 win.
Two changes were made from the side that drew in Munich last weekend, as Arne Maier returned to midfield for Vladimir Darida and Karim Rekik celebrated his long-awaited return from injury by replacing Jordan Torunarigha, who was taken ill shortly before the game.
This was a different Hertha from the team that turned up against Bayern a week ago, as Pal Dardai’s side set up to get forward and worry their hosts as much as possible.
After overcoming an early spell of pressure, which saw Jarstein forced into two smart saves to keep the score goalles, Hertha, wearing red for the first time in the league all season, began to bear down on the Schalke goal with impressive regularity.
Good work from Mathew Leckie and Arne Maier down the left set up Schalke from the edge of the box, but Ralf Fährmann in the home goal was on hand to deny the 22-year-old.
Seconds later, following a series of Hertha corners, Lazaro fed Kalou down the left and the Ivorian’s trickery saw him create space on the byline before squaring to Niklas Stark, who somehow managed to send the ball straight into the arms of Fährmann with the goal gaping.
The winner came with the first half coming to a close, as Pekarik was unable to prevent Marco Pjaca getting to a right wing cross first and tucking the ball past Jarstein.
The Dane, who was kept very busy keeping out the reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich last week, barely had a save to make in the second half, as Hertha asserted themselves and confidently went looking for a point.
Salomon Kalou curled an effort over after neat build play, and then both Arne Maier and Peter Pekarik went close from distance.
The best chance unsurprisingly came from a Marvin Plattenhardt delivery, as the Germany left-back curled a beautiful free kick onto the head of Stark, though the centre back was unable to hit the target, leaving Hertha to succumb to a tenth successive defeat in the Veltins Arena.
Conclusion and Outlook
Hertha stay 11th in the Bundesliga with 31 points from 25 games, six points clear of the relegation play-off place and four behind seventh-placed Hoffenheim.
SC Freiburg visit the Olympiastadion next Saturday for a 15:30 kick off.