Kevin-Prince Boateng stood there and was amazed. The Hertha BSC midfielder looked in the direction of the east curve, where an elaborate choreography by the Berlin fans was just beginning. Thousands of blue and white flags were waved and banners raised. Boateng’s respect for the Ultras’ work was clearly visible.
The game between Hertha BSC and Eintracht Frankfurt, which kicked off shortly afterwards, also gave plenty of reason to marvel. At least from the point of view of the Berliners, who started the new season with two defeats in competitive games. On Saturday, however, in the first home game in front of 44,694 spectators, Hertha was clearly superior to the Europa League winners in the first half and also deservedly led 1-0. But it wasn’t enough for the first win of the season.
Nevertheless, Hertha was reasonably lucky in the end – because referee Frank Willenborg surprisingly took back a penalty kick for Frankfurt two minutes before the end, according to the TV pictures. The Berliners got at least the first point, because Eintracht remained 1-1 against Eintracht, who have now been without a win for ten Bundesliga games throughout the season.
After the defeat in the derby, Hertha’s coach Sandro Schwarz made four changes to his team. Maximilian Mittelstädt and Chidera Ejuke replaced Marvin Plattenhardt and Myziane Maolida, both of whom were injured. In addition, Boateng and Davie Selke were replaced by Lucas Tousart and Wilfried Kanga. Tousart even wore the captain’s armband. Jean-Paul Boetius was initially on the bench but made his first appearance for Hertha at the beginning of the second half, as did 19-year-old Derry Scherhant from his own youth team, who was making his Bundesliga debut.
More important than the changed lineup, however, was the changed attitude of the Berliners at their first home appearance of the new season. After the defeat in the derby, coach Sandro Schwarz complained about the lack of energy in his team’s game. There was no lack of that this time. Hertha went to work with a completely different intensity. And that paid off early on.
In the second minute, Ejuke stole the ball from Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada on the center line. Dodi Lukebakio crossed from the right precisely into the Eintracht penalty area, where Suat Serdar rushed in with speed and a lot of energy, prevailed against Ansgar Knauff and headed in to give Hertha a 1-0 lead.
Grippy in midfield, uncompromising on the defensive and looking for depth in the game up front: Hertha’s performance looked completely different than a week earlier in the Alte Försterei. The home team had two more good chances before the break, both initiated by the good Maximilian Mittelstädt, who hadn’t even made it into the squad in the first two competitive games. The first time Evan Ndicka just saved from Kanga, the second time Hertha’s center forward released perfectly. But the Frenchman scooped the ball over the bar from five yards.
On the other hand, Frankfurt’s center forward Lucas Alario was similarly clumsy. Just five minutes after Hertha’s lead, he was served by Kamada – and deflected the ball past the empty goal from five yards. The linesman raised the flag immediately afterwards, but an offside position could not be seen when viewing the television images.
An open game with many chances for both sides
Frankfurt, who still had to deal with Real Madrid in the European Supercup on Wednesday, had a hard time with Hertha. While they clearly dominated possession in the first half, they seemed a bit tired and sluggish in their efforts. Only once did it become dangerous again before the break: when Hertha’s six Ivan Sunjic unintentionally headed the ball right into Daichi Kamada’s foot. But his shot flew high over the goal.
Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner made the switch in the second half, bringing in Faride Alidou for Knauff. The fact that it was 1-1 a few seconds later had less to do with Eintracht than with Hertha. Central defender Filip Uremovic lost the ball in front of his own penalty area. Randal Kolo Mouani served Kamada in the middle – and Oliver Christensen in the goal of the Berlin team had no chance of defence.
The security that Hertha had distinguished before the break had now evaporated, the picture was different. It was now an open game, with many chances for both sides, whereby Eintracht seemed a bit more mature, while Hertha seemed a bit naïve at times. But there was no more goal – also because referee Willenborg couldn’t see a foul in Christensen’s attack on Rafael Borré shortly before the end.