Final Game in the second division
Easily the most important thing with regard to Hertha’s line-up was that Hungarian veteran Pal Dardai started his final game for the club after 14 years of loyal service. It was his 297th game for the capital city side. Coach Markus Babbel also recalled Maikel Aerts between the posts as well as Hubnik, Raffael and Lasogga (the latter duo from suspension). Neumann, Perdedaj, Rukavytsya and Friend reverted to the bench.
The opening exchanges can probably best be described as something of a promotion party hangover, with neither side taking the initiative at first. Both teams passed the ball between their ranks until around the 15th minute, as Augsburg’s Daniel Brinkmann got his head to a free kick. His effort however missed the target. Across the halfway line Hertha combined well, and Adrian Ramoshttp://www.herthabsc.de/index.php?id=764 set Dardai up, but the crowd favourite got underneath the ball and blasted it into row 17.
That served a collective wake up call as both sides looked a little more determined but clearcut chances remained a rarity. A laola wave went through the packed stadium at ten past two. Shortly before halftime though, there was hardly a dry eye in the house, as Babbel replaced Dardai with Patrick Eberthttp://www.herthabsc.de/index.php?id=752. The seasoned Hungarian went on a lone lap of honour which saw the whole stadium rise to him. And as he was taking his deserved plaudits, the deadlock was broken on the pitch. There was confusion in Augsburg’s defence following a Ronny corner. Hubnik headed the ball against a post, before Lasogga mopped up from point blank range to give the home side a halftime lead.
Hertha took the game to Augsburg as the second half began. It looked as if Babbel had found the right words during the break, because his side looked much sharper all of a sudden. Raffaelhttp://www.herthabsc.de/index.php?id=763 missed a gilt-edged chance on 59 minutes, as he let fly from 20 metres out . That stinger made sure former Wolfsburg keeper Simon Jentzsch was on his toes. Then out of nowhere the visitors drew level. Brinkmann split the Hertha back four with a pass to Sinkiewicz, who passed in turn to Hain who chipped the ball over Aerts to equalise after 60 minutes.
Adrion Ramos almost capitalised on a defensive mix up, but lost out in a one on one situation with Jentzsch. On 73 minutes Ebert played in Friend (on for Lasogga after 65 minutes). The Canadian striker battled his way into the Augsburg box where he had his shirt tugged and was dragged down by Sankoh, who was given his marching orders. Lady referee Bibiana Steinhaus pointed to the spot. The ensuing penalty was duly dispatched by Kobiashvili. The party could finally begin. About time too!
Two minutes from the end Michael Thurk hit a post but Hertha hung on for what was a deserved 2-1 victory in the end, and a perfect end to an amazing season. It was Hertha’s 23rd victory of the season – a division two record!
After the final whistle, the Hertha squad and coaching team gathered in the centre circle to finally take possession of the division two championship shield (which really does resemble a hub cap!). Andre Mijatovic lifted the silverware into the Berlin sky and the place went crazy. It kicked off what promises to be a celebration of record proportions.