Vladimír Darida battles with Dominik Szoboszlai.
First team | February 20, 2022, 09:26 PM

Leipzig put Hertha to the sword

There was bad news even before kickoff for head coach Tayfun Korkut. With Niklas Stark and Suat Serdar out with Covid-19, Prince Boateng, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Lukas Klünter, Dongjun Lee, Maximilian Mittelstädt and Marvin Plattenhardt all also returned positive tests on Saturday morning and were out of the game. Six further players were unavailable for the game due to injury; Dedryck Boyata, Márton Dárdai, Kélian Nsona und die Torhüter Oliver Christensen, Rune Jarstein and Nils Körber are all building their way back up to match fitness and were therefore out of the match against RB Leipzig. Alongside Myziane Maolida, Davie Selke and substitute goalkeeper Marcel Lotka, youth team players Julian Albrecht, Anton Kade, Cimo Röcker and Christalino Atemona took places on the bench. Santiago Ascacíbar, Marc Oliver Kempf and Marco Richter returned to the starting XI, with Fredrik Bjørkan making his full debut.

A close first half goes RBL’s way

The rain thundered down as the game kicked off, with captain for the day Peter Pekarík and his colleagues working in compact fashion, closing down danger in their own half and looking dangerous on the counter attack, Stevan Jovetić’s through ball to Richter showing the pattern of Hertha’s attacks, but a defender blocked the pass before it reached the German (9’). Leipzig had a huge chance after 9 minutes as the ball fell to Nordi Mukiele with space in the penalty area, the Frenchman only able to fire wide. With a quarter of an hour gone, the Blue-Whites had won nearly 70% of their tackles, but were unlucky to go behind on 20 minutes: Benjamin Henrichs’ rebound cannoned in off Linus Gechter’s foot and gave RBL the lead. Hertha came close to a near-instant response, as Ishak Belfodil headed just wide from a cross (23’). The half settled into its rhythm for the next few minutes, before a moment of controversy: Vladimír Darida looked to play a ball through to Richter, who was brought down by Joško Gvardiol on the edge of the box, the defender seeming to be the last man back but referee Patrick Ittrich deciding only a yellow card was warranted – Jovetić powered the resulting free-kick low and hard, but Péter Gulácsi was equal to it (35’). Richter then also headed wide from a Pekarík just before half time, which came to an end with the away side narrowly in front.

Photo gallery: Hertha BSC - RB Leipzig

Jovetić levels before red card turns the game

The start of the second half was perfect from a Hertha point of view, as Jovetić levelled the scores on 48 minutes. Ascacíbar won the ball back in midfield, and the Montenegrin drove forward, eventually unleashing a shot from 20 yards which deflected in off Gvardiol’s arm. It was a deserved equaliser for the Blue-Whites, who started to turn the screw and created some good chances for our number 19, as he first volleyed over following some great build-up play and then forced Gulácsi into a fine save from 18 yards (50’, 53’). The home side were in pole position to take the lead, but then the game changed in a second. Kempf tangled with Christopher Nkunku in the penalty area, and Ittrich had no choice but to award a spot-kick and a red card to the Hertha defender as he was the last man (62’). The Frenchman made no mistake from 12 yards, and adding another to his and Leipzig’s tally just three minutes later (64’, 67’). The side from Saxony really made their man advantage count, as substitute Dani Olmo added another on 74 minutes.

As the game drew to a close, Korkut brought on Davie Selke and academy talent Anton Kade for Belfodil and Richter, the youngster the 82nd player to come through the academy and make their debut for Hertha since it was established in 2001. Kade did also have a sniff at goal, but his attempt was parried by Gulácsi, and came after Amadou Haidara added a fifth for RBL fron range (82’, 83’). The next action was another Hertha red card; Ascacíbar was sent off by Ittrich for what seemed to be a standard tactical foul, and the VAR agreed, downgrading the Argentine’s red card to a yellow (85’). Yussuf Poulsen added a sixth with two minutes of normal time remaining to put the stamp on an unhappy evening for Herthaner everywhere.


Hertha BSC: Schwolow; Pekarík (C), Gechter, Kempf, Bjørkan; Darida, Ascacíbar; Tousart, Richter (76’ Kade); Jovetić (70’ Myziane), Belfodil (76’ Selke)

RB Leipzig: Gulácsi (C); Simakan (46’ Klostermann), Orbán, Gvardiol; Mukiele, Haidara, Forsberg (60’ Laimer), Henrichs (80’ Adams); Szoboszlai (60’ Olmo), Nkunku (70’ Silva); Poulsen

Goals: 0-1 Henrichs (20’), 1-1 Jovetić (48’), 1-2 Nkunku (P) (64’), 1-3 Nkunku (67’), 1-4 Olmo (74’), 1-5 Haidara (82’), 1-6 Poulsen (88’)

Referee: Patrick Ittrich

Yellow cards: Richter, Ascacíbar; Gvardiol, Tedesco

Red cards: Kempf 

Attendance: 10,000

by Hertha BSC