Hertha got the 2021/22 campaign underway on Sunday afternoon, 78 days after our last competitive match. The blue-and-whites travelled to face third-tier SV Meppen in front of 6,000 fans. Head coach Pál Dárdai threw in all three summer signings as Prince Boateng, Suat Serdar and Stevan Jovetić all started in the new Hertha third kit. The returning Davie Selke also got the nod while Deyovaisio Zeefuik replaced captain Dedryck Boyata (slight muscle problem) on the bench at short notice. Niklas Stark led the lads out as captain.
Selke hits the post as Hertha start fast
Hertha settled into the game right from the off, launching threatening attacks within minutes of kick-off. The first opportunity fell to Jovetić after Dodi Lukébakio sent the ball into the box, but our new number 19 selflessly laid the ball square for Selke. Selke’s effort hit the inside of the post before the Meppen ‘keeper grabbed hold and clung on (7’). Lukébakio and Serdar also tested shot-stopper Erik Domaschke (12’), who was again in position to keep out a header from Jovetić soon after (18’). Selke was then played in again, hitting the side-netting after receiving the ball from Serdar (26’). Dárdai’s men were just lacking the precision to turn chances into goals, controlling things in the first half and seeming to enjoy their first taste of competitive action. The final 15 minutes were somewhat more even with Lars Bünning testing Hertha ‘keeper Alexander Schwolow for the first time (38’). Selke couldn’t connect with Plattenhardt’s cross (44’) before Domaschke stopped yet another effort from 'Jove' (45+2’). With that, the first half ended goalless despite all the chances.
Chances at both ends - Selke with the suckerpunch
The second half began in similar fashion to the first: Selke broke through and laid the ball to Jovetić, but the striker couldn’t squeeze his shot past the row of defenders (47’). The hosts began to grow into the game thereafter, forcing Schwolli into a pair of stunning saves, the second of which was an incredible flying stop to tip away Tankulić’s free-kick (55’). Two minutes later, Schwolli was beaten – but there was a let-off for Hertha as the ball came back off the bar (57’). As the side from Lower Saxony enjoyed their best spell of the game, Dárdai reacted by sending on Lucas Tousart and Javairô Dilrosun (60’). The Dutchman didn't need long to cause problems with his speed – but there was no end product to make Meppen pay. As the game progressed it became a true cup nailbiter with both teams carving out chances; first Markus Ballmert struck the post (75’), before Serdar squandered a pair of opportunities (77’, 78’). 'Platte' fired a free-kick just centimetres wide (79’) as the match looked to be heading for extra time. But then, as the board went up to signal five minutes of stoppage time, Davie Selke rose to head home Plattenhardt’s corner (90+1’). A precious 1-0 away win and progression to the second round!
Hertha BSC: Schwolow – Pekarík, Stark, M. Dárdai, Plattenhardt – Serdar (90'+3 Darida), Prince (60' Tousart), Ascacíbar – Lukébakio (60' Dilrosun), Selke, Jovetić (79' Jastrzembski)
Goals: 0-1 Selke (90+1')
Yellow cards: Hemlein, Al-Hazaimeh – Ascacíbar, Prince, Selke, Serdar
Referee: Dr. Robert Kampka (Mainz)