Honours even as Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen produce second-half fireworks
Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen shared four second-half goals in the German capital, with Patrik Schick securing a point for the visitors.
Hertha Berlin 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Demirbay 49', 1-1 Serdar 56' (assist: Ejuke), 2-1 Richter 74', 2-2 Schick 79' (assist: Andrich)
Hertha enjoyed a first win under coach Sandro Schwarz last weekend and - roared on by a huge crowd at the Olympiastadion - started well in the Berlin sunshine. Captain Marvin Plattenhardt showed some early class in teeing up Dodi Lukebakio, who headed off target. Leverkusen's travails this term have been well publicised with the Werkself making their worst start to a Bundesliga campaign since 1982/83. At the same stage last year, Schick had netted four top-flight goals. The Czech forward regained some of that swagger when scoring his first in the division in 2022/23 last week. However, he failed to convert an inviting Kerem Demirbay cross here, Oliver Christensen managing to save the striker's header. The Hertha custodian was again to the fore later in the half when pulling off an eye-catching, one-handed stop to deny Adam Hlozek. At the other end, Dodi Lukebakio and Wilfried Kanga combined to create the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, the latter stretching to reach his teammate's cross and sending the ball against the upright.
A touch of inspiration was required to break the deadlock and it arrived not long after the restart. Just like Schick, Demirbay also found the net when B04 went down to Freiburg last weekend. Leverkusen's No. 10 made it two games in a row with the sweetest of free-kicks that left his left foot, sailed over the wall and into to the corner. The visiting celebrations were short lived, though. Hertha snaffled possession in midfield and soon had Bayer on the back foot. Lucas Tousart's incisive pass for Wilfried Kanga led to the 24-year-old squaring to Chidera Ejuke inside the box. The Nigerian spun and fed Serdar who slammed in the equaliser. It was to get even better for the Old Lady. Taking advantage of a lapse in Leverkusen concentration, Hertha quickly fed the ball to Richter who chested down before unleashing a sublime hit from distance that gave Lukas Hradecky no chance. Spurred on by the spirited Gerardo Seoane on the sidelines, the visitors struck back, Schick sweeping in for 2-2 and completing the scoring in a sensational second half.
- Schick scored in successive Bundesliga games for the first time this season.
- Richter has two goals in three games since recovering from testicular cancer.
- Demirbay has scored nine of his 20 Bundesliga goals from long-range. The Leverkusen No 10. netted in successive Bundesliga games for the Werkself for the first time.
- Serdar has scored twice for Hertha this term, with both of his goals coming at home. His efforr for 2-1 was his first from distance in a Hertha shirt.
- Die Werkself are winless in their last four against Hertha (D2, L2).
- Leverkusen's haul of four points from their first six Bundesliga games represents their worst start to a season for 40 years.
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Hertha: Christensen – Kenny, Uremovic, Kempf, Plattenhardt (c) – Tousart (Darida 90'+3), Sunjic, Serdar (Boëtius 67') – Lukebakio (Dardai 81'), Kanga (Selke 81'), Ejuke (Richter 67')
Unused subs: Ernst, Pekarik, Boateng, Myziane
Out: Dong-jun Lee (knee), Gechter (tonsils), Jarstein (not considered), Jovetic (knock), Ngankam (knee), Nsona (cruciate ligament), Scherhant (muscular)
Coach: Sandro Schwarz
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) – Frimpong (Kossounou 76'), Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Palacios (Aranguiz 41'), Demirbay (Andrich 76') – Diaby, Hlozek (Amiri 66'), Hudson-Odoi (Azmoun 76') - Schick
Unused subs: Lomb, Bakker, Fosu-Mensah, Sertdemir, Sardar
Out: Adli (collarbone), Bellarabi (knee), Lunev (thigh), Wirtz (cruciate ligament)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
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