Nils Petersen came off the bench to score once again and seal a 2-1 win for Freiburg over Hertha Berlin, a result that keeps the Black Forest club in the hunt for a top-six finish.
Wolfsburg’s defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the day’s earlier fixture meant that both of these teams had the chance to make up ground in their hopes of European qualification. The game duly began at a frenetic pace as each sought to assert control, but it was Hertha who were on top initially. Niklas Stark just missed the target from Vladimir Darida’s cross, while Vedad Ibisevic was twice denied by some last-gasp defending from Philipp Lienhart. Freiburg gradually began to fashion some chances of their own, though, with Robin Koch heading wide from Vincenzo Grifo’s corner before Roland Sallai demonstrated incredible technique to control a looping ball to the back post, only to fire wide from close range.
The match was equally intense after the interval and Dodi Lukebakio thought he had put the visitors ahead with a brilliant, swerving shot from the edge of the area, but it was disallowed following a VAR review for a foul in the build-up. Not long afterwards Freiburg did take the lead as Grifo caught out Rune Jarstein with a quickly taken direct free-kick from 20 yards. They were soon pegged back, however, when Ibisevic equalised from the penalty spot after Koch had fouled Peter Pekarik. Darida almost scored the visitors’ second with a rasping drive that was well saved, but shortly afterwards the Czech midfielder was involved at the other end of the pitch as Freiburg restored their advantage. He miscontrolled a pass out from Jarstein, allowing Petersen to nick the ball off his toe and poke in the winner, lifting the Black Forest club to within just one point of Wolfsburg in sixth.
- Grifo scored from a direct free-kick for the first time this season, although it is Freiburg's third in 2019/20. Only Augsburg (four) have more.
- Ibisevic scored his sixth goal of the season, and third since the restart. He has converted each of his last eight penalties.
- The veteran striker moved up to 27th in the Bundesliga's all-time scoring charts, with an overall tally of 126.
- Petersen scored his 11th goal of the season and took his league-high record of goals as a super-sub to 25.
- The Freiburg forward now has more goals than he managed in the entire 2018/19 campaign (10). The only time he netted more was in 2017/18 (15).
- Freiburg have been in the top half of the table all season - something only Bayern, Dortmund and RB Leipzig have managed.
Freiburg: Schwolow - Schmid, Lienhart, Heintz, Günter (c) - Sallai (Petersen 61'), Koch (Haberer 82'), Höfler, Grifo (Schlotterbeck 90+3') - Höler (Frantz 82'), Waldschmidt (Kwon 82')
Unused subs: Flekken, Abrashi, Itter, Tempelmann
Out: Gulde (muscular), Kübler (knee), Ravet (muscular)
Coach: Christian Streich
Hertha: Jarstein - Pekarik, Stark, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt (Esswein 82') - Maier, Grujic (Cunha 83') - Lukebakio, Darida, Piatek - Ibisevic
Unused subs: Smarsch, Klünter, Bark, Dardai, Ngankam, Rekik, Samardzic
Out: Ascacibar (foot), Boyata (suspended), Dilrosun (thigh), Kalou (not included), Kraft (back), Leckie (muscular), Mittelstädt (glandular fever), Skjelbred (calf), Wolf (ankle)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia