Pál Dárdai said that he wanted to wait until after our final training session to come to any decisions about his line-up – and those decisions paid off in a big way on Thursday. The Hungarian made sweeping changes, with nine new players in the line-up; only goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow and midfield engine Matteó Guendouzi remained in the team. Eight of the players who had started the previous game against Mainz dropped to the bench, while Lukas Klünter was left out of the squad to manage his workload. Our Herthaner set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with captain Dedryck Boyata leading the team out 138 days after his last appearance in the starting eleven.
Torunarigha takes one on, Piątek converts the rebound – Radonjić sets up goalscorer Pekarík
The new team began the game with confidence in their build-up and tried to play the ball out from the back. It worked to perfection after 13 minutes: Jordan Torunarigha found some room in the opposition half, driving towards goal and letting fly with a long-range shot. Freiburg ‘keeper Florian Müller was able to save, but the rebound fell to Krzysztof Piątek who made no mistake. 1-0 to Hertha! Things soon got even better: Nemanja Radonjić sent his marker for a hot dog on the left wing before sending in a perfectly timed cross for Peter Pekarík to head home (22’). The dream start with a pair of early goals! Our right-back now has three league goals this season, plus another in the Pokal. The goals gave the team extra confidence and Radonjić had a go from range (28’). With the wind in their sails, the men from Berlin played it smart, stroking the ball around and making the opposition work. There was just one stain on an otherwise flawless first half: Guendouzi had to be taken off shortly before the break with a suspected fractured metatarsal. He will undergo further tests on Friday. Sami Khedira took his place (39’). The home side did not let the game slip away as the half ran down, however, and made sure that the two goal lead held until the break.
Schwolow maintains the clean sheet – Cunha hits the post but Radonjić puts it to bed
Freiburg got their first meaningful opportunities at the start of the second-half. Schwolow reacted well to save a header from Nicolas Höfler, though, and the clean sheet remained intact (48’). Five minutes later, Lucas Höler missed after a ball in from Christian Günther (53’). As the guests began to gain the upper hand, Dárdai responded with some changes: Matheus Cunha and Jhon Córdoba replaced Javairô Dilrosun and goalscorer Piątek (62’). The Brazilian didn’t need long to make a statement, first hitting the side netting before a second attempt crashed against the post (70’, 73’). Niklas Stark and Deyovaisio Zeefuik replaced Boyata and Vladimír Darida for the final stages of the game. The result was to get even better as the clock wound down: Radonjić almost made it 3-0 but for a fine save (82’) before the Serb got his reward soon after. A superb first Bundesliga goal put the cherry on top of the cake as he dribbled into the box and slammed him our third goal (85’). It’s a third win in four Olympiastadion matches and our fifth game unbeaten overall. A terrific evening all round!