Tayfun Korkut made two changes from the final starting XI of 2021 to start the New Year. Ishak Belfodil (positive Covid-19 test) and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp were replaced by Davie Selke and Suat Serdar. It was Selke’s first start for the Blue-Whites in exactly 100 days, whilst Lukas Klünter returned to the bench for his first involvement in 120 days, following his shoulder injury. Santiago Ascacíbar, Linus Gechter and Lucas Tousart were all available following negative Covid-19 tests, with Ascacíbar starting the game. Former Herthaner Ondrej Duda lined up for Köln.
Two big chances for Hertha – two goals for Köln
Hertha created the first chance on the Olympiastadion pitch, Marco Richter finding Myziane Maolida, who fired wide from the right hand side of the penalty area (5’). The next piece of quality came from Hertha’s left flank: a good move involving Serdar and Vladimír Darida fed Selke, whose cross was cut out by Jonas Hector just before it reached the waiting Richter (9’). The away side found their way into the game on 19 minutes, a cross finding Louis Schaub, whose shot was well parried away by Alexander Schwolow, the rebound from Duda dropping just wide. Mark Uth then skied a chance two minutes later from a similar position to Schaub’s attempt. Hertha found their way back on 28 minutes, Darida finding Maolida through on goal but the Frenchman shooting straight at Köln ‘keeper Marvin Schwäbe. The away side then went straight to the other end and netted the opener (29’). Uth’s cross found Anthony Modeste, who headed home to give Köln a lead which they doubled just three minutes later, as Duda’s shot, from the edge of the area after the Hertha defence failed to clear a corner, found its way through a crowd of bodies and past Schwolow for 2-0. The Blue-Whites did not find an answer to the goals before half time, and Schwolow prevented Modeste from doing further damage (43’).
Darida reduces deficit – late goal decides the game
The second period began with a change, but not to either side: referee Tobias Stieler was injured in the first half, so Alexander Sather came in to replace him. Hertha’s first shot of the half came from Peter Pekarik, set up by Serdar but parried away by Schwäbe (53’). Four minutes later, a goal, and a way back! Darida’s long-range free kick floated past everybody in the box and found the corner (57’). Some chaos then ensued, as an over hit backpass from Stark had to be handled by Schwolow, giving away an indirect free kick seven yards from goal. Our goalkeeper made himself big and prevented the goal, though! Substitute Prince Boateng’s header was the next chance for Hertha, but it was off target (71’). Stark headed similarly off target with just under 10 minutes to go, before shots from Boateng and Richter were also unable to bring an equaliser. Köln made the game safe in added time, as Thielmann pounced on a mistake and countered on his own to make the final score 3-1 to Köln.
Hertha BSC: Schwolow; Pekarík (81’ Klünter), Stark, Torunarigha, Mittelstädt; Richter, Darida, Ascacíbar (81’ Tousart), Serdar; Selke (69’ Prince), Myziane (69’ Ekkelenkamp)
1. FC Köln: Schwäbe; Schmitz, Kilian, Hübers, Hector; Özcan, Kainz (65‘ Thielmann), Duda (84‘ Ostrák), Schaub (65‘ Ljubičić); Uth (77’ J. Horn), Modeste
Goals: 0-1 Modeste (29‘), 0-2 Duda (32‘), 1-2 Darida (57‘), 1-3 Thielmann (90+1‘)
Referee: Tobias Stieler (46‘ Alexander Sather)
Yellow Cards: Torunarigha, Serdar (suspended vs. Wolfsburg), Prince (suspended vs. Wolfsburg); Hübers