Compared with the 2-0 away win at VfL Wolfsburg, head coach Gerardo Seoane made three changes to his starting line-up: Charles Aránguiz came in for the suspended Kerem Demirbay and Paulinho for the injured Amine Adli, with Lucas Alario up front in place of Sardar Azmoun.
With vocal support from the North Stand the Werkself were initially on the back foot in the first few minutes but the visitors were unable to create decent goalscoring opportunities with the exception of an effort from Maximilian Mittelstädt from distance (2'). An immediate counter-attack from Leverkusen ended with Mitchel Bakker also hitting the outside of the net. The hosts then dominated the ball and the match as they pushed Hertha Berlin back into their own half.
The team from the capital were forced into making their first change on 15 minutes – and it was their goalkeeper who went off. Number one keeper Alexander Schwolow was unable to carry on due to injury and he was replaced by Marcel Lotka. The 20-year-old had already played three games for Hertha in the current Bundesliga campaign (conceding nine goals) and the Polish shot-stopper came through the youth ranks at Bayer 04 from 2017 to 2020 before his move to Berlin. His first action was to save an effort from Karim Bellarabi from 16 yards out (20').
After 30 minutes, the Seoane team had over 70% possession but failed to pose a real threat – until the 34th minute. Moussa Diaby hit a low cross into the middle where Alario controlled the ball on the turn with his first touch and then he hit his shot into net at the far post.
The Werkself now had the wind in their sails, kept up the pressure and scored a second goal six minutes later: This time Diaby cut into the penalty area from the right where Bellarabi received the ball before slotting it into the bottom right corner. But that was not the end of the action in the first half: Hertha Berlin hit straight back with Vladimir Darida making it 2-1 on 42 minutes.
The opening stages of the second half were initially evenly balanced without clear-cut chances for either side. After more than half an hour, Seoane used a break in play to bring on three new players. That included Patrik Schick in addition to Exequiel Palacios and Azmoun. The Czech Republic international has recently been out injured with his last appearance in the middle of February.
For a long time there were no threats until Azmoun headed a Paulinho cross goalwards – but he only found the outside of the net (75'). The Werkself were then mainly concerned with securing the win but Robert Andrich did have a good effort with a header (85'). However, neither side were able to add to the scoreline so that the 04 minutes of added time were played out as Bayer 04 secured a second win in succession.
Following the international break and the game against Hertha Berlin there is now a match every weekend until the end of the season. The next challenge for the Werkself is on Sunday 10 April away to VfL Bochum. The match against the newly promoted club kicks off at 15.30 CEST.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba – Bellarabi (Azmoun 64'), Andrich, Aránguiz (Palacios 64'), Bakker (Hincapie 73’) – Paulinho, Diaby – Alario (Schick 64')
Hertha Berlin: Schwolow (Lotka 15’) – Pekarik, Boyata, Kempf, Mittelstädt (Richter 64’) – Stark (Winkler 64’) – Darida, Tousart, Ascacibar, Serdar (Gechter 46’) – Belfodil (Selke 75’)
Goals: 1-0 Alario (34’), 2-0 Bellarabi (40’), 2-1 Darida (42’)
Booked: Boateng (off the pitch)
Referee: Dr. Jöllenbeck (Müllheim)
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