The Werkself had to play in the capital without Moussa Diaby, who tested positive for Covid-19 the day before the match. His place on the right wing was taken by Leon Bailey. Florian Wirtz, who was called up to the Germany senior squad for the first time this week, returned to the starting eleven in place of Nadiem Amiri in midfield.
The Werkself were caught cold a few minutes after the kick-off. A pass from Dodi Lukebakio found Zeefuik in the penalty area and he struck the ball perfectly with an unstoppable shot for Lennart Grill that went into the net off the inside of the post – an extremely attractive strike but also an extremely unlucky start for Bayer 04 (4'). The Werkself needed some time to get into the game after this false start with Patrik Schick having a chance with a header from a Kerem Demirbay free kick (11'). The Czech then had a somewhat better chance from an excellent cross from Jeremie Frimpong but he just missed out (14').
Bayer 04 came into the game during this phase and increasingly applied pressure on the Hertha goal. A number of dangerous crosses flew into the hosts' penalty area but just failed to find their target and the net shot from a Demirbay was a long-range effort (22'). The Werkself were on top but Hertha scored the goals. A smart counter-attack down the right flank ended with Cunha converting a diagonal ball from Lukebakio with the second serious attack from the Berlin side ending with the second goal (26').
That efficiency summed up the big difference between the two sides: While Schick and Edmond Tapsoba were unable to provide the finish in the six-yard box from a whipped-in Bailey corner (30'), the hosts successfully rounded off their third attack of the game: Jonathan Tah initially blocked an effort from Cordoba but his follow-up shot went through the legs of Grill to make it 3-0 (33'). Although Wendell (37') and Demirbay (39') then had two chances: It was a first half to forget for Bayer 04.
Peter Bosz reacted by bringing on Amiri and Lucas Alario for Demirbay and Demarai Gray. The Werkself briefly played with a 4-4-2 system and then a 3-5-2 formation. However, the first double chance of the second half fell to the Berlin team with Grill keeping out Cordoba and Cunha (50'). Then Lukebakio scored a fourth goal for the hosts but VAR intervened to rightly rule it out due to a handball by Cordoba in the build-up (52').
The Werkself then immediately had a great chance to get back into the game with an excellent attack and great lay-off by Wirtz to Schick but his close-range shot was saved by the Hertha keeper Rune Jarstein (54'). The Berliners then reverted to a 5-3-2 formation that produced a compact defence and again and again dangerous counter-attacks: Grill pulled off excellent saves in a one-on-one with Cunha and seconds later with a powerful shot from Lukebakio (65').
Bayer 04 were unable to find their way through the Hertha defence with a lack of penetration in the final third – and also by narrow margins with Schick just failing to connect with a Wirtz cross (72'). Peter Bosz tried everything and he brought on another attacker in the shape of Karim Bellarabi for Frimpong with nearly the whole of the team on the pitch designed to attack. Of course, that increasingly allowed Hertha Berlin to play on the break with Cunha hitting a low shot just wide (75').
The Werkself were running out of time – and there was not much more than another header from the lively but unlucky Schick (80') with Hertha having the last opportunity of the game from substitute Krzysztof Piatek (88').
Bayer 04 now go into the international break in sixth place. The next game is at home to bottom side Schalke 04 at the BayArena with the match on Saturday 3 April kicking off at 15.30 CEST.
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein - Klünter, Stark, Dardai (Torunarigha 82') - Zeefuik, Tousart, Guendouzi, Mittelstädt (Netz 82') - Cunha (Piatek 82') - Lukebakio (Radonjic 72'), Cordoba (Ascacibar 63')
Bayer 04: Grill – Frimpong (Bellarabi 72'), Tah, Tapsoba, Wendell – Wirtz, Aránguiz, Demirbay (Amiri 46') – Bailey, Schick, Gray (Alario 46’)
Goals: 1-0 Zeefuik (4’), 2-0 Cunha (26’), 3-0 Cordoba (33’)
Booked: Bailey, Amiri
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (Munich)
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