Oberhausen – In the 50th final of the German A-Junioren Championship, Blue-White goalkeeper Dennis Smarsch proved his worth with a save on Ahmed Kutucu after just seven minutes played. Two minutes later, Hertha struck at the other end, as a free kick from captain Florian Krebs was nodded into the back of the net by Panzu Ernesto. In the following minutes after the goal, Smarsch denied an S04 equaliser with saves on Nassim Boujellab (10’) and Kutucu (16’), as Schalke players Florian Krüger and Boujellab got in each other’s way on the rebound of the latter’s effort to prevent the ball from being poked over the line. The Blue-Whites showed once again how dangerous they can be from set pieces, as Krebs sent a tremendous direct free kick from a central position into the left-hand side of the goal (26’). Hertha were not only the more clinical team, but also defended better in the first period, preventing Schalke from creating any more clear-cut chances for the remainder of the half. By contrast, Hertha had two good opportunities on the counter, first Maier sent a shot just wide of the goal (38’), then Palko Dárdai slipped when controlling a square pass from Dennis Jastrzembski (42’).
Schalke pressure, but Maier puts the result beyond doubt
As expected, the Royal Blues started the second half on the front foot in search of an equaliser, and the Hertha defence initially defended their lead successfully. In the 47th minute, Max Mulack cleared a cross just ahead of Boujellab, who was ready to shoot. Three minutes later, Lennart Czyborra headed over the Blue-White goal. Schalke did eventually make the breakthrough, and like Hertha’s first two goals, their goal came from a set piece - Smarsch was helpless to stop a deflected free kick from Kutucu in the 62nd minute. After conceding, the Blue-Whites threw more bodies forward. In the 75th minute, Krüger did not quite connect with the ball well enough to test Smarsch, before the goalkeeper pulled off an impressive save five minutes later to deny the same man. In the end, Hertha were more clinical and with less than ten minutes to play, Arne Maier put the game to bed with an effort from a central position (83’). Following the third goal, Dárdai missed a penalty which he won himself (88’). However, the miss did not matter and Hertha claimed their first ever German Championship title at U19 level!
Hertha: Smarsch - Kastrati (80' Gurschke), Hummrich, Ernesto, Mulack - Krebs, Kade - Zografakis (32' Jastrzembski, 88’ Ngankam) , Maier, Dárdai - Kiprit (66’ Albrecht)
Goals: 0-1 Ernesto (9'), 0-2 Krebs (26'), 1-2 Kutucu, 1-3 Maier (83')
Referee: Frank Willenborg
Venue: Stadion Niederrhein, Oberhausen