Berlin - FC Schalke 04 completed a smash and grab 2-0 victory at Hertha Berlin with Adam Szalai and Julian Draxler on target in the capital.
The Hungarian struck midway through the second half after a good period of Hertha pressure. The home side enjoyed more of the possession throughout, but Draxler ended their hopes deep in stoppage time with a well-taken second.
Hertha had a spring in their step, most notably the perpetual livewire Änis Ben-Hatira, who sent in the first dangerous shot of the game from the edge of the penalty area, forcing an excellent one-handed save from Timo Hildebrand to push the ball behind for a corner. Schalke, for their part, were struggling to get into their rhythm and a shot from distance from Draxler was all they had to show for their efforts in the first 15 minutes.
Ben-Hatira then escaped his marker at the far post to send a volley into the side-netting with Hertha continuing to dictate the play in front of over 70,000 fans inside the Olympiastadion. Draxler again tried his luck from range, nearly sneaking a shot inside the post but for a full-stretch save from Thomas Kraft. Szalai went even closer from Kevin-Prince Boateng’s cross as the Royal Blues started to gain the upper hand.
From the resulting corner, Szalai headed the visitors in front as he leapt highest at the near post to meet Dennis Aogo’s set-piece. Hertha recovered from the setback well, however, and continued to enjoy most of the possession. They began to turn that dominance into chances early in the second half with Ben-Hatira, as usual, at the heart of everything.
The 25-year-old went close, before Benedikt Höwedes made an impeccable sliding tackle to prevent him from going through again. The fans started to raise their voices in response to their side’s renewed verve and vigour, but Max Meyer provided a reminder of Schalke's quality when he rattled the crossbar at the other end. It was a warning, but not one which would convince Hertha to drop their attacking play, substitute Ronny going close with Hildebrand called into action.
There was concern for Schalke head coach Jens Keller when Szalai went down after twisting his knee. With his squad already down to the bare bones due to injuries, the 42-year-old was relieved to see the Hungarian return to the fold following a brief break for treatment.
Keller received a further dose of appeasement when Draxler sealed the points in stoppage time, the young Germany international's 20-yard strike going some way to
atone for last weekend's derby loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Line-ups and statistics
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