A brace from substitute Krzysztof Piatek helped Hertha ease away from 10-man Union Berlin. Though Bruno Labbadia’s men claim the points, their difficulty seeing off their neighbours shows there’s still cause for concern.
Since the coronavirus made capacity crowds a mere memory in the Bundesliga, their loss has been lamented by almost everyone. But on Friday night, the hollow echoes of players‘ voices may have been prefferable to 80,000 boos for Hertha Berlin boss Bruno Labaddia for much of this match.
His side struggled badly in the first half, the lack of confidence born of one win in eight was palpable. But the man who inspired Hertha to recover some respect after Jürgen Klinsmann’s shambolic and short-lived reign is now, perhaps for the first time in a nomadic career, working with serious resources. And at half time he turned to a striker who cost more than his opponents have spent on transfers in the last decade.
Krzysztof Piatek was required after a scuffed early effort from on loan Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi, following some slick work from Marcus Ingvartsen, was enough for Union Berlin to take the lead at the break despite Robert Andrich’s dismissal for a head-high challenge.
Union started the game eight points clear of their rivals from the west but Piatek’s introduction served as a stark reminder of the financial disparity between the clubs. The Polish striker set Hertha back €24 million from AC Milan, a sum unimaginable for their opponents.
Celebrated German underdog coach Otto Rehhagel, who won the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern and the Euros with Greece once said: “Geld schiesst keine Tore” (money doesn’t score any goals). But it does sometimes buy players that can score them.
Piatek’s introduction alongside Javairo Dilrosun at the break helped energize a side that had looked bereft. After Peter Pekarik took advantage of some sloppy goalkeeping from Andreas Luthe to level things up, the fresh legged-pair took over.
First, Piatek picked up his Dutch teammate’s pass and spun before firing a shot that took a huge deflection to beat Luthe. No matter how it went in, the Polish striker’s confidence was up, and when a ball dropped to him on the volley, after a smart run and pass from Dilrosun, he lashed home to seal the points.
Union were out on their feet, with the late injury-enforced departure of Max Kruse a real concern, but they remain a side that know their strengths and have a plan to maximise them.
Despite all the investment, all the coaches and all the talk, Hertha are yet to take flight. Three points here will be welcomed by those 80,000 watching at home but few will be fooled. They’ve had a few false dawns before.
Read from source: https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-derby-piatek-brace-saves-hertha/a-55829152