Hosts Hertha claimed the Berlin derby bragging rights over Union yesterday with a convincing 4-0 victory in their almost empty 74,000-capacity Olympic Stadium. 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.
Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia started Czech Republic midfielder Vladimir Darida in the only change from last Saturday’s win at Hoffenheim in his first home match in charge. 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 Sunday’s loss to champions Bayern Munich.
A minute silence was held before kick-off at the eerily quiet ground in the German capital in remembrance of all victims of Covid-19. The best chance of the opening 20 minutes, which were dominated by Labbadia’s men, fell to winger Lukebakio but the DR Congo international’s effort was saved by 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 Bosnia-Herzegovina 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 Olympics 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 Brazilian 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 area after 62 minutes.
Centre-back Boyata, who apologised 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 Belgium defender celebrated by kissing his elbows and chest-bumping teammates including Jordan Torunarigha as they clinched revenge after November’s derby defeat, the first time the sides had met in the German top-flight.
Today, second-placed Borussia Dortmund can close the gap to a point on leaders Bayern Munich with a win over Wolfsburg. Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt in 13th spot later in the day.
Dortmund will again be without Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, coach Lucien Favre said. Witsel has not recovered from muscular problems he suffered trying to regain fitness before last weekend’s resumption of matches.
But former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is fit again and available for selection as Dortmund aim to keep their pursuit of leaders Bayern Munich on track with a victory. Giovanni Reyna, the 17-year-old son of former US international Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna, is also set to play some part after what would have been his first Bundesliga start was thwarted last weekend when he injured himself in the warmup before the 4-0 win against Schalke.
Favre also said he was still hopeful German international Marco Reus, who injured groin muscles in February before matches were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, could return to action before the end of the season. “He still hasn’t trained with the team. We hope he’ll be able to return as quickly as possible and help us,” Favre said.
Elsewhere, Borussia Moenchengladbach will place 13,000 cut-out images of fans in their stadium for the visit of Bayer Leverkusen.
Hertha Berlin 4 (Ibisevic 51, Lukebakio 52, Cunha 61, Boyata 77) Union Berlin 0
Playing today (all times 1330 GMT unless stated): Borussia Moenchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg v Werder Bremen, Paderborn v Hoffenheim; Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt (1630)
Playing tomorrow: Mainz v RB Leipzig (1330), Cologne v Fortuna Duesseldorf (1600)
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