Felix Magath made three changes to the side which started the final game of the regular season against Borussia Dortmund. Marcel Lotka, who was unable to play due to a concussion, was replaced in goal by debutant Oliver Christensen. Niklas Stark stepped into defensive midfield for the suspended Santiago Ascacíbar, whilst Luca Wollschläger made his first start for the first team as he replaced Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, in what was a solid 4-4-2 formation.
VAR intervenes at both ends – Belfodil’s goal ruled out
The away side had more possession in the early stages of the game, but Hertha’s defence were able to quell any chances for HSV, looking instead to break into the attacking half, two Marvin Plattenhardt set-pieces causing the first worries in the Hamburg defence (17’, 18’). At the other end, a corner also gave the ‘Rothosen’ their first chance, but Miro Muheim shot wide from range (22’). The game was very hard-fought, both Stark and Lucas Tousart picking up yellow cards from referee Harm Osmers. The 32nd minute saw the first major opening for HSV: Glatzel took a shot from inside the penalty area, which was deflected off Peter Pekarík before being parried expertly by debutant Christensen. Osmers, however, was called to the VAR monitor as the deflection came off Pekarík’s arm. After a long check, the referee decided that there was a handball from HSV’s Maximilian Rohr in the build-up to the shot, and a free-kick to Hertha was awarded (36’). At the other end, Hamburg were able to stop any attempt from Suat Serdar, before Robert Glatzel headed into the side netting (37’, 40’). Then, the most dramatic moment of the half from a Hertha standpoint: Ishak Belfodil headed a Mittelstädt cross home for what seemed to be an opening goal! However, as the Olympiastadion erupted, the linesman raised his flag. The Algerian was adjudged to have been offside and the VAR confirmed that the goal was disallowed (45’). Tousart’s shot in added time was easily dealt with by HSV goalkeeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes, so the half ended goalless.
Unlucky goal gives HSV the advantage
The second 45 began with a substitution from Felix Magath: Stevan Jovetić came in for Wollschläger, and was involved from the off, starting the attacks with fine interplay. The first moment of danger came through the Montenegrin too, as the ball fell to him inside the penalty area but he could not get it out of his feet in time, shooting wide (56’). From that chance, HSV went up the other end and scored: Ludovit Reis flashed a hopeful cross into the penalty area, which looped over everyone, Christensen included, and ended up in the back of the net via the post (58’). It was setback which Hertha looked to answer immediately. Belfodil dribbled fantastically into the area, but his shot was no issue for Heuer Fernandes (61’). A Plattenhardt cross then caused some further danger just two minutes later, but the Hamburg goalkeeper was on hand to prevent an own goal from Mario Vušković. The ‘Rothosen’ looked to counter, and Magath brought on fresh legs to combat that, Marco Richter and Linus Gechter replaced Suat Serdar and Niklas Stark, before Myziane Maolida replaced Belfodil. HSV were on top at this stage, Sonny Kittel firing over from inside the box with just over 10 minutes on the clock. Some late crosses from Mittelstädt were dealt with by the HSV defence and goalkeeper. The final whistle blew on a 1-0 defeat in Berlin – a frustrating result, but one which by no means spells the end of the tie. Monday night means a final chance for redemption!
Hertha BSC: Christensen; Pekarík, Boyata (C), Kempf, Plattenhardt; Stark (70‘ Gechter), Tousart; Serdar (70‘ Richter), Mittelstädt; Wollschläger (46‘ Jovetić), Belfodil (80‘ Myziane)
Hamburger SV: Heuer Fernandes; Heyer, Vušković, Schonlau (C), Muheim; Meffert, Reis, Rohr (58‘ Vagnoman); Jatta (73‘ Kaufmann), Glatzel, Kittel (90‘ Gyamerah)
Goals: 0-1 Reis (58‘)
Referee: Harm Osmers
Yellow cards: Stark, Tousart, Boyata