Chris Williams – BERLIN, GERMANY
Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund – November, 30 – Bundesliga, Olympiastadion
Two goals in quick succession from Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard were enough to give the 10 men of Dortmund a valuable win on Jürgen Klinsmann’s return to coaching at Hertha Berlin.
It was a fixture that had been highly anticipated – for the hosts, Jürgen Klinsmann moves from the boardroom to the dugout, while for Dortmund it was Lucien Favre that faced a number of questions around his future.
The talk pre-match was could Klinsmann provide the bounce needed to inflict further pain on his opposite number? After a poor showing in the Camp Nou against Barcelona, the rumour drums were banging to the sound of a potential sacking should a defeat come in the capital.
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Hertha started brightly, sensing the atmosphere around their guests the Old Lady of Berlin searched for an early opener – their final ball just evading an out of sorts Dodi Lukebakio.
A lack of quality from Hertha was then punished twice in quick succession. Jadon Sancho latched onto a through ball from Julian Brandt and the much talked about Englishman finished in superb style.
From their next attack, Dortmund had two – Thorgan Hazard poked home an Achraf Hakimi cross and Favre had the response he wanted, the visitors were flying.
Then with 10 minutes of the half remaining Hertha had a lifeline, Vladimír Darida reacted quickly to a Lukebakio shot on goal, his toe-poke directed the ball past a stranded Roman Bürki.
On the stroke of halftime Dortmund’s woes returned, Mats Hummels picked up a second yellow card and was given his marching orders by Sven Jablonski, the defender was livid but had no choice but to leave the pitch – from flying to flapping, the whistle allowed the visitors to regroup.
For all the regrouping Dortmund did, Hertha came out for the second half like a side possessed. Davie Selke latched onto a smart pass from Marko Grujić and the 24-year-old slipped the ball past Bürki – Hertha were in dreamland on 48 minutes.
However, VAR interjected – Selke was offside, by the slimmest of margins – but the law is the law, no goal. It riled the hosts up and Dortmund began to be put under monumental pressure as the hour passed.
Favre’s side looked solid, the right-hand combination of Hakimi and Hazard worked well in defence and on the break, over on the other flank it was a similar story for Raphaël Guerreiro in particular.
Hertha threw everything but the kitchen sink at Dortmund, but Favre’s men held on to pick up a valuable three points in the most difficult of circumstances.
Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund – Three Stars
Raphaël Guerreiro (Dortmund)
Kicked, elbowed and floored throughout the first half it was a resilient Guerreiro who shone through to take the game to the hosts, his strength of character was evident on an afternoon that cried out for such a performance.
Vladimír Darida (Hertha)
As the hosts looked for goals one man, in particular, was involved. Be that creating opportunites or finishing them the 29-year-old showed what additions he can bring to Klinsmann’s Hertha.
Thorgan Hazard (Dortmund)
Claiming his second goal of the Bundesliga season (and his second of November) the Belgian capped an excellent day’s work. The sort of performance expected when he moved to Dortmund but has only been seen fleetingly.
Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund – GOALS: 0-1 (Sancho, 15′), 0-2, (Hazard, 17′), 1-2 (Darida, 35′)
Lucien Favre wanted a response and he got one, flying into a lead Dortmund were then able to show their character by digging in to grind a result out when the odds looked stacked against them at one point.
Hertha Berlin vs Borussia Dortmund – Starting Lineups
Hertha BSC (3-5-2)
Kraft, Stark, Boyata, Rekik, Skjelbred, Wolf, Mittelstädt, Grujic, Darida, Selke, Lukebakio
Borussia Dortmund (3-4-2-1)
Bürki, Akanji, Hummels, Zagadou, Hakimi, Brandt, Witsel, Guerreiro, Reus, Sancho, Hazard
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams