Hosts Hertha BSC on Friday claimed Berlin derby bragging rights over 1. FC Union Berlin with a convincing 4-0 victory in their almost empty 74,000-capacity Olympiastadion.
Hertha moved up to 10th place after the opening match of the second round of games since the Bundesliga restarted last week under strict coronavirus measures thanks to second-half goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Dodi Lukebakio, Matheus Cunha and Dedryck Boyata.
“It would have been fantastic if we could have played a game like that in front of 75,000 spectators, but I hope that the fans at least had fun in front of their TVs,” Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia said. “In the first half we played very well against well-organized opponents. I had to make that clear to my team at halftime because they were feeling a bit negative. By the end, we were happy because these were important points in the relegation battle.”
Labbadia, in his first home match in charge, started midfielder Vladimir Darida in the only change from their win at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday last week.
Union’s Urs Fischer, who guided the east Berlin outfit to the top-flight for the first time this season, brought in four fresh faces to his starting lineup after their loss to champions Bayern Munich on Sunday last week.
A minute of silence was held in the eerily quiet ground before the match began in remembrance of all of the country’s COVID-19 victims.
The best chance of the opening 20 minutes, which were dominated by Labbadia’s players, fell to winger Lukebakio, but his effort was stopped by Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz.
Labbadia’s side continued their dominance into the second half. Lukebakio was stopped two minutes into second half, again by Gikiewicz, before captain Ibisevic headed home a powerful opener.
Just 70 seconds later, Hertha doubled their lead as forward Ibisevic fed Lukebakio, who got the better of Gikiewicz with a side-footed effort.
Both goals were greeted by the Hertha club anthem echoing around the ground built for the 1936 Olympic Games as it was played on the public address system.
Labbadia celebrated by elbow bumping with his coaching staff, as did his players on the field.
Hertha added a third on the hour mark as playmaker Matheus Cunha scored his fourth goal of the season.
Lukebakio missed with an ambitious overhead kick inside the box and Cunha, who joined from RB Leipzig in January, side-footed home from outside the penalty box after 62 minutes.
Centerback Boyata, who apologized for breaching virus-related league protocol after grabbing the face of teammate Marko Grujic during last weekend’s win, claimed a fourth with 13 minutes to play.
The defender celebrated by chest-bumping teammates and kissing his elbows, as they clinched revenge after November’s derby defeat, the first time the sides had met in the German top-flight.
“We laid it on a plate for Hertha, but we’ve lost one game, nothing more, nothing less,” Union coach Fischer said.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund were yesterday to face VfL Wolfsburg, giving them the chance to close the gap to one point on leaders Bayern Munich.
Later in the day, Bayern were to host Eintracht Frankfurt, while Borussia Moenchengladbach were to host Bayer Leverkusen.
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