Hertha wins top match 2:0, stays undefeated this season
A 76th minute strike by Valeri Domovchiyski and a last minute goal by Raffael, ensured that Hertha maintain their unbeaten record at the top of the second division table on Friday night. Coach Markus Babbel’s men beat table-neighbours Greuther Fürth 2-0 in a round 9 opener, in front of another bumper crowd of 39,274 at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. The deserved victory saw the Berliners open up a four-point gap over Fürth at the top of the table.
Ahead of kick off, home side Hertha were the only unbeaten side in professional football. They hoped that fine record would continus as second placed Greuther Fürth (a point behind Hertha) visited the Olympic stadium in Berlin for the clash which opened round 9 of the second division. Fürth arrived in the capital city boasting a superb record of three straight league victories, so something was likely to give under the floodlights on Friday night.
Both coaches picked the sides which triumphed in round 8 – Hertha won 1-0 away to FSV Frankfurt, while Fürth beat VfL Osnabrück 3-0 at home. One player in need of no extra motivation was Hertha’s captain Andre Mijatovic, who wore the Greuther Fürth jersey from 2005 until 2007. The game against his former club was his 100th in the second division: “I am absolutely convinced that Fürth won’t be able to stop our progress if we go into the game focused and play as well as we have in recent matches”, said the Croatian a day before the game.
The roles the teams were to play in the match looked to be clearly laid out early on, as the visitors forced Hertha to take the game to them which they usually did down the left wing, while Fürth waited to counter attack whenever possible. On six minutes Ramos fired an initial effort wide of goal. Apart from that mini chance, the best two defences in the second division dominated proceedings, not exactly upping the quality of a game between the top two sides in the division.
Hertha looked useful enough going forward, but any possible danger fizzled out as they reached the opposing penalty area. Fürth finally “threatened” on 14 minutes with their first real attacking move of the game, as Haas fired a shot from distance well over the Berlin crossbar. It was the only “chance” the visitors had during the opening half. Hertha upped the pressure and Ramos alone had four decent chances to open the scoring during the first half. The Columbian striker was first denied by keeper Grün (30.), then Biliskov (33.) and then a shot shaved the outside of the right hand upright (41.). Finally on the stroke of halftime Kleine produced a timely challenge to deny the Hertha striker who always looked dangerous. Niemeyer (45.) and then Domovchiyski (45.+1) aimed too high, so the game was goalless at the break.
Fürth supremo Mike Büskens brought on Sararer for Nehrig at the start of the second half. The visitors grew in confidence and the game became much more open. There were no goals though, after a free kick by Aleksic flew just over the bar of the goal, once again being kept by reserve keeper Sejna (50.). Raffael then forced a good save from Grün while handily placed (52.).
Fürth should have taken the lead on 61 minutes as Sejna made a howler of a blunder. A harmless looking long distance shot by Haas was only punched into the path of Fürth’s Müller, who was one on one with the home keeper but nerves got the better of him and he fluffed what was a gilt-edged chance. Shortly afterwards, Hertha skipper Mijatovic picked up an injury and was replaced by debutant Neumann. Then Fürth skipper Kleine was in the spotlight as he kept his cool to clear a Raffael chance while under pressure (68.). Three minutes later, Babbel was forced into another change as Rukavytsya signalled that he had to come off with an injury. He was replaced by youngster Schulz, who had impressed in recent matches coming on as a substitute (71.).
The deadlock was finally broken on 76 minutes. Ramos fed Kobiashvili with a brilliant back heel. The Georgian veteran advance to the byline from where he pulled the ball back into the box. Biliskov could only clear the ball into the path of Bulgarian striker Domovchiyski, who nailed the ball under the crossbar to give Hertha the lead. Fürth threw everything forward going in search of an equaliser. Aleksic squandered two half chances late on (85., 86.). It was game over four minutes later though as a Hertha counter attack concluded with Raffael scoring his second league goal of the season, rounding off excellent approach work by strike partner Ramos. The Brazilian needed a second bite of the cherry as his first effort came off keeper Grün. The Hertha goal-getter made no mistake with the rebound to ensure his side edge a little closer to their season goal of promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt.
Hertha BSC: Sejna – Lell, Hubnik, Mijatovic, Kobiashvili, Niemeyer, Rukavytsya, Domovchiyski, Raffael, Ramos – Friend
Greuther Fürth: Grün – Schröck, Kleine, Biliskov, Prib, Pekovic, Nehrig, Haas, N. Müller, Onuegbu – Aleksic
Goals: 1-0 Domovchiyski (76.) 2-0 Raffael (90.)
Booked: Niemeyer, Friend Schulz/ N. Müller, Biliskov, Aleksic, Pekovic Fürstner
Referee: Christian Dingert