The Hertha eleven began the match with fire in their bellies, throwing themselves into every tackle. We broke through in the third minute, with Dodi Lukébakio having the first chance of the match, but our number 11 could only hit the side netting. At the other end of the pitch, Rune Jarstein stood firm to save an effort from Stuttgart’s Endo (8’). Niklas Stark also put in a good block to deny Stuttgart, an incident that was typical of the effort and intensity brought to the game by the men in blue and black. Pál Dárdai’s men kept Stuttgart away from goal and defended as a team to snuff out potential danger in a tricky period for the away side. Stuttgart’s Erik Thommy hit the side netting (22’) and Saša Kalajdžić narrowly missed the target under pressure (30’). Jarstein also pulled off an exceptional save to his left to deny Mavropanos a goal from a corner (33’). Kalajdžić passed up two glorious opportunities as the hosts pressed for an opener (38’, 40’). The Old Lady fought hard to keep them out, but Kalajdžić finally broke the seal by heading home a free-kick from Thommy (45’+1). The boys from Berlin went into the break with a narrow deficit to make up.
A spirited fightback earns a point in Stuttgart
Despite falling behind, our lads kept heart to pick up an important point in Stuttgart.
Both teams got back to work without any half-time changes. Pál Dárdai waited until the hour mark to bring on fresh legs, sending on new signings Nemanja Radonjić and Sami Khedira, who was playing his 100th Bundesliga match back in his hometown. Krzysztof Piątek and Santiago Ascacíbar were the men making way. Hertha reacted well and Matheus Cunha lifted the ball over goalkeeper Gregor Kobel only for Waldemar Anton to get back and clear it off the line at the last second (59’). The fighting spirit brought about a solid period for the capital city club as they remained busy on the front foot. Radonjić broke forward with pace but couldn’t find a finish to cap off the counter-attack (73’). Cunha saw an effort blocked (78’) before Hertha finally got their reward in the 82nd minute. Substitute Luca Netz wanted the ball more than any of the defenders and manager to forced the ball into the back of the net after receiving the pass from Sami Khedira. Crazy celebrations erupted on the sidelines following the goal, which makes Netz the youngest Bundesliga goalscorer in the history of our club. Both teams tried to land a killer blow in injury time, but neither quite managed to bag a winner. The blue-and-whites travel home with a well-deserved point earned out of spirit.
VfB Stuttgart: Kobel - Mavropanos, Anton, Karazor – Sosa, Endo, Mangala – Wamangituka (68’ Coulibaly), Förster (86’ Cissé), Thommy (68’ Didavi) - Kalajdžić (86’ Klimowicz)
Hertha BSC: Jarstein – Pekarík (79’ Leckie), Stark, Alderete, Mittelstädt (79’ Netz) – Tousart, Ascacíbar (58’ Khedira), Guendouzi – Lukébakio, Cunha – Piątek (58’ Radonjić)
Goals: 1-0 Kalajdžić (45’+1), 1-1 Netz (82’)
Referee: Harm Osmers (Bremen)
Yellow cards: Mavropanos, Karazor (VfB Stuttgart) – Piątek, Pekarík (Hertha BSC)