Bayer 04 head coach Roger Schmidt had to make do without his captain Lars Bender (rehab training), Kevin Volland (back problem), Stefan Kießling (sidelined with a knock) and midfielder Charles Aránguiz (bruised thigh). The Chilean was replaced in the starting eleven by Julian Baumgartlinger with Karim Bellarabi celebrating his return to the team after four months out injured.
Dragovic injured, Toprak nets first goal of the season
The Werkself experienced an unfortunate start to the match. Just a few minutes into the game, Aleksandar Dragovic suffered an injury in a collision with Hertha Berlin's Vladimir Darida. He was replaced by substitute Jonathan Tah.
The opening stages saw both sides test each other out without posing a serious threat on goal. That all changed on 12 minutes: Hakan Calhanoglu sent a free kick from the right into the six-yard box and Hertha were unable to clear their lines. The ball ricocheted around as Ömer Toprak and Chicharito waited to take advantage. The Turk acted instinctively to turn the ball into the net and give the Werkself the lead with his first goal of the season.
Calhanoglu converts spot-kick
With the 1-0 lead, the Werkself sat back and allowed Hertha to move up the pitch. That enabled the visitors to come in range of Bernd Leno's goal. The best chance for the Berliners fell to striker Vedad Ibisevic with an unsuccessful effort from the edge of the box. Just after the half-hour mark the referee Tobias Stieler awarded the Werkself a penalty after a flowing move ended with a cross from Julian Brandt being blocked by the arm of Marvin Plattenhardt as he slid in to intercept the ball. Calhanoglu stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way as he fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the Berlin net on 36 minutes. The Turkey international thus ended a run of four missed penalties for the Werkself this season.
Hertha came back into the game just before the break thanks to Valentin Stocker. From a corner, Leno parried a header from Berlin's John Anthony Brooks that Stocker was able to head home with ease to make the score 2-1 at the break.
Leno protects the lead
The Werkself were straight out of the blocks at the start of the second half and they created a number of chances. The unlucky Chicharito tried from every angle with his feet and head on 46, 48 and 57 minutes but was unable to find the back of the net. The same applied to Hertha. And that was down in great part to Leno: With 73 minutes on the clock, a cross found Ibisevic unmarked six yards out but the Leverkusen shot-stopper kept his cool to pull off sensational reflex save thus preventing the equaliser.
In the final stages of the game Hertha tried everything but were unable to create clear-cut chances. The result was sealed just before the final whistle: Kevin Kampl broke to the byline on the right before crossing into the Berlin box. The well-placed pass found Calhanoglu just inside the penalty area and the midfielder fired his shot into the corner of the Hertha net on 89 minutes. The Turk's six goal of the season made it 3-1 to Bayer 04 and it was also his first double strike in his Bundesliga career.
The 3-1 victory takes the Werkself up to eighth in the table with 24 points at the end of the first half of the season. The Schmidt team are at home again on Saturday when Borussia Mönchengladbach visit the BayArena.
Bayer 04: Leno – Henrichs, Dragovic (Tah 8’), Toprak, Wendell – Baumgartlinger, Kampl – Bellarabi (Havertz 83’), Calhanoglu – Brandt (Mehmedi 75’), Chicharito
Hertha BSC: Jarstein – Pekarik, Stark, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Lustenberger, Skjelbred (Allagui 87’) – Esswein (Haraguchi 66’), Darida (Schieber 82’), Stocker – Ibisevic
Goals: 1-0 Toprak (12’), 2-0 Calhanoglu (pen. 36’), 2-1 Stocker (44’), 3-1 Calhanoglu (89’)
Booked: Ibisevic, Stocker
Referee: Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
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