Head coach Tayfun Korkut made five changes to his lineup, handing a debut to new arrival Marc Oliver Kempf in the centre of defence alongside the returning Niklas Stark. Alongside them, Santiago Ascacíbar, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp and Stevan Jovetić came in for Dedryck Boyata (ankle ligament) Márton Dárdai (not in squad) and Lucas Tousart (personal reasons). Linus Gechter and Suat Serdar took places on the bench, as did goalkeeper Marcel Lotka and January signing Dongjun Lee for the first time.
Excellent start rewarded with the lead
It was clear to see how well the team started early on, the first chance coming after just four minutes. Vladimír Darida latched onto a loose ball and fired a low shot towards goal, but VfL goalkeeper Manuel Riemann was equal to it. Seconds later, Myziane Maolida found Ascacíbar, whose shot was blocked by the Bochum defence. The away side looked dangerous on the counter attack, one of which was the source of their first shot from Gerrit Holtmann (6’). With a quarter of an hour gone, Ascacíbar volleyed a half-cleared corner over from the edge of the area with some great technique. Incidentally, the opener came from a set piece – Jovetić floated a pinpoint delivery into the area, where his strike partner in Belfodil was able to flick his header into the far corner to make it 1-0 to the Blue-Whites (23’). The goal was checked for offside by VAR, but still stood! Korkut’s side were continually dangerous from set pieces; Maxi Mittelstädt controlled and attempted the spectacular from a corner that found its way to the 18-yard line, but Maxim Leitsch was able to stand firm and block for another corner (35’). Hertha tried to add to the scoreline before the whistle blue, but could not find a way through, even if they had taken nine shots to Bochum’s two. That statistic alone speaks to the story of the first half.
A goal from nothing right after the restart
The second half began with a bitter pill for our team to swallow. Jürgen Locadia shot from long range, and with Alexander Schwolow only able to parry into danger, half-time substitute Sebastian Polter was able to tap the rebound in and equalise (48’). The goal definitely affected our lads, and Korkut reacted later on by bringing Lee on for his Bundesliga debut (58’). This change saw our Blue-Whites break into the attacking third more and more, with Jovetić’s attempt from 20 yards well held by Riemann (66’). As the game drew on, a draw was looking more and more likely, as both teams looked to find ways through but both defences standing firm and denying their attempts. That was the way the match finished; neither side were able to put a sucker punch in, and the Friday night game ended 1-1.
Hertha BSC: Schwolow; Pekarík, Stark (C), Kempf, Mittelstädt (87‘ Serdar); Ekkelenkamp (58‘ Lee), Darida, Ascacíbar, Myziane (75. Bjørkan); Jovetić, Belfodil (75‘ Richter)
VfL Bochum: Riemann (C); Gamboa, Bella Kotchap, Leitsch, Danilo Soares; Tesche (46‘ Osterhage), Rexhbecaj; Holtmann (71‘ Antwi-Adjei), Asano (46’ Polter), Pantović - Locadia (88’ Bonga)
Goals: 1-0 Belfodil (23‘), 1-1 Polter (48‘)
Referee: Marco Fritz
Yellow cards: Ekkelenkamp, Mittelstädt, Richter; Bella Kotchap