Vincenzo Grifo scored from the penalty spot and substitutes Kevin Schade and Lucas Höler were also on the scoresheet late on as Freiburg continued their push for a top-six finish with a 3-0 win at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
The visitors came into the game nursing a damaging 6-1 loss at home to RB Leipzig last week, and Freiburg immediately set about capitalising on any vulnerability that result had caused an already out-of-form side without a win since Matchday 17. Grifo set the tone early on with a brilliant free-kick from 20 yards that was matched by an equally impressive save from debutant goalkeeper Marcel Lotka. There was nothing the Hertha custodian could do about Grifo’s penalty a short while later, though, the 28-year-old driving a powerful shot into the net after Linus Gechter had brought down Roland Sallai. Grifo also hit the post as Freiburg sought to turn their dominance into more goals, while restricting Hertha to just one notable chance all half: Steven Jovetic’s defence-splitting pass released Peter Pekarik into the box, but he was denied by Mark Flekken.
Hertha were much improved after the half-time break, playing with greater urgency getting forward and denying Freiburg as much time on the ball as they had in the first 45 minutes. Wooyeong Jeong still had the first opportunity of the half following a mazy dribble, his shot blocked from 10 yards, but that opening was the exception rather than the rule. The visitors, encouraged by their bold, aggressive display, grew into the game and almost drew level through Marco Richter, but his thundering effort from an angle was thwarted by Flekken. Freiburg coach Christian Streich reacted to the away side’s growing superiority by bringing on Höler and Schade, and it proved to be a masterstroke, with both players finding the net in the closing stages to seal all three points and leave Hertha ever closer to the relegation zone.
- Hertha's fourth-choice goalkeeper, 20-year-old Lotka, made his Bundesliga debut in this match.
- Jeong made his 50th league appearance for Freiburg; Lucas Tousart his 50th competitive game for Hertha.
- Grifo has scored 12 of the 13 penalties he has taken in the Bundesliga.
- His goal was the 10th time Freiburg have scored in the opening 15 minutes this season.
- Hertha have conceded 14 penalties in 58 Bundesliga games since summer 2020, including six this season alone.
- Schade's goal was his fourth in the Bundesliga this term; Höler is now level with Grifo on five.
Watch: Schade: "Nobody's talked about relegation"
Freiburg: Flekken - Kübler, Lienhart (K. Schlotterbeck 89'), N. Schlotterbeck, Günter (c) - Eggestein, Höfler - Sallai (Schade 64'), Jeong (Demirovic 82'), Grifo (Weißhaupt 82') - Petersen (Höler 64')
Unused subs: Uphoff, Gulde, Schmid, Haberer
Out: Keitel (broken toe)
Coach: Christian Streich
Hertha: Lotka - Pekarik, Gechter (Röcker 69'), Boyata (c), Bjorkan - Tousart, Darida (Lee 70'), Serdar - Richter (Ekkelenkamp 78'), Jovetic, Belfodil (Selke 78')
Unused subs: Körber, Mittelstädt, Ascacibar, Maolida, Kade
Out: Boateng (not included), Christensen (thigh), Dardai (ankle), Jarstein (knee), Kempf (suspended), Klünter (not included), Plattenhardt (not included), Schwolow (not included)
Coach: Tayfun Korkut
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