Peter Bosz made just one change to his starting eleven – fully understandable given the impressive performance in the derby on Wednesday. Sven Bender was on the bench after picking up an ankle injury against FC Köln and he was replaced in central defence by Edmond Tapsoba.
The opposition from the capital opted for a somewhat more defensive line-up against the attacking Werkself formation and they initially looked to defend. Unlike Bayer 04 who again looked to get on the front foot, as they did on Wednesday, and they were rewarded with early chances: Kai Havertz missed the target after being set up by Leon Bailey (5') and seconds later Dedryck Boyata hit the ball straight at Kevin Volland and it rebounded just wide of the post (6'). Another dangerous cross from Moussa Diaby was just cleared by Boyata ahead of reaching the Werkself captain (13') – and the chances continued to come: Rune Jarstein kept out a spectacular overhead kick from Havertz (15') and a curler from Diaby went just past the top corner (16').
Hertha Berlin posed little threat early on – but with the first serious attack the visitors took the lead. The Berlin team mounted an impressive attack down the right flank and the ball ended up with Cunha behind the Werkself defence. The Brazilian hit a technically perfect shot from the edge of the box that left Lukas Hradecky with no chance as it flew under the bar (22'). The Werkself were behind out of the blue – and soon after that had to thank their keeper that the scoreline was not 2-0: Cunha broke through but Hradecky was able to prevent him netting a brace thanks to an excellent save with his foot (24').
Bayer 04 had to dig in as the ball was not moving as well as before going behind – also because the hosts sat further back after taking the lead and succeeded in denying the Werkself space. It took a brilliant move to create the next chance but Marvin Plattenhardt made a last-ditch challenge to prevent Diaby shooting (34'). Shortly after that, the French wizard on the wing hit a shot over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box under pressure (37'). The Werkself again and again had to fend off Hertha counter-attacks with Hradecky saving a shot from a tight angle from Krzystof Piatek (36’). Bayer 04 tried everything up front: Seeing that Jarstein was off his line, Leon Bailey tried a shot from distance but it lacked the required accuracy (42') – as so often in this first half that ended with the Berliners going in ahead at the break.
Peter Bosz reacted by making a double change for the second half: Charles Aránguiz and Kevin Volland were replaced by Kerem Demirbay and Paulinho. The two substitutes immediately set up the first chance for Bayer 04 in the second 45 but Plattenhardt threw himself in front of the shot from Diaby (47'). As in the first half, Bayer 04 exerted pressure and pushed Hertha back – and, in a repeat move, the Berliners celebrated again after a brilliantly played counter-attack. After two quick and accurate passes, Piatek broke through down the right took the ball past Hradecky to the byline by the post and Lukebakio was left with a simple tap-in – a blow for Bayer 04 (54').
The reaction followed immediately: Peter Bosz threw caution to the wind by bringing on Lucas Alario in place of Tapsoba (57'). But the efforts from the Werkself continued to fail to find the back of the net with an acrobatic volley from Havertz also missing the target (61'). The attacking line-up gave Hertha more chances to play on the break: A low drive from Marko Grujic flew past the left post (63'). Bayer 04 found it difficult to penetrate a well-organised Berlin side and were unlucky that the constant rain in the capital made a controlled passing game more and more difficult. Peter Bosz made his final change bringing on Nadiem Amiri and Florian Wirtz for Julian Baumgartlinger and Leon Bailey (75'). With his first touch the ball, the youngster Wirtz set up a brilliant chance for Alario and he headed the ball past Jarstein. However, Jordan Torunarigha sprinted back to clear the ball off the line (76') – rather symbolic for the unfortunate attacking efforts from the Werkself on the afternoon. At the very latest, when Jarstein held on to the final long-range effort from Amiri (90+3') it was clear: There was nothing doing for Bayer 04 today.
Thanks to the defeat and the victory for Borussia Mönchengladbach at the bottom-of-the-table Paderborn, Bayer 04 have slipped down to fifth in the table. Next weekend, the Werkself are dependent on the help of today's opponents: Hertha Berlin are away to Gladbach and they have to win there so Bayer 04 can qualify for the Champions League by winning at Mainz. From a Werkself perspective, it is also to be hoped the next performance at the Olympic Stadium ends on a happier note: Bayer 04 play FC Bayern in the DFB Cup final on 4 July.
Hertha BSC: Jarstein - Pekarik (Klünter 50’), Boyata, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt - Stark, Grujic- Cunha, Darida, Lukebakio (Esswein 69’) - Piatek (Ibisevic 89’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Dragovic, Tah, Tapsoba (Alario 57’), Wendell – Aránguiz (Demirbay 46’), Baumgartlinger (Amiri 75’) – Diaby, Havertz, Bailey (Wirtz 75’) – Volland (Paulinho 46’)
Goals: 1-0 Cunha (22’), 2-0 Lukebakio (54’)
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (Munich)
Booked: Lukebakio, Grujic, Klünter, Stark - Tapsoba, Dragovic, Alario
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