Hertha Berlin and Schalke shared four goals in a frenetic first half in the German capital as the pair opened Matchday 19 with an entertaining 2-2 draw on Friday.
Hertha Berlin 2-2 Schalke
Goals: 0-1 Konoplyanka (17'), 1-1 Grujic (39'), 1-2 Uth (44'), 2-2 Ibisevic (45+4')
Both teams had kicked off 2019 with wins, and carried that momentum into a ding-dong battle of a first half. Though only a timely Matija Nastasic block prevented Davie Selke seriously testing Alexander Nübel, Schalke made the best start, and capped it with Yevhen Konoplyanka stylishly curling home the opener. Hertha regrouped and counter-punched on a counter-attack that saw Ondrej Duda breathtakingly backheel the decisive pass into Marko Grujic's run, and the on-loan Liverpool midfielder coolly levelled. Mark Uth was just as clinical as he swept home Bastian Oczipka's cut-back to restore the visitors' lead, but Vedad Ibisevic crept between Schalke's dozing centre-backs to ensure a see-saw 45 minutes ended perfectly balanced.
With Schalke still looking nervously over their shoulders and Hertha peering enviously into the top six, neither side was ever going to be happy with a point. Selke stretched Nübel, who responded with stunning flexibility, before Schalke took hold of the game. Steven Skrzybski led a counter-attack that saw Rune Jarstein push over a Suat Serdar before the Norwegian goalkeeper's hands were left stinging by a powerful Skrzybski drive. But the cutting edge both teams had had in the first half had been blunted with even the introduction of Salomon Kalou not providing the spark required to break the deadlock.
Watch: Grujic pleased with Schalke point
- Grujic is yet to lose in the Bundesliga (nine appearances). Hertha have picked up three times as many points with him in the team (21) than without (seven in 10 games).
- Grujic's goal was his second in the German top flight this term.
- Hertha have beaten Schalke just three times in the last 21 top-flight meetings. All of them ended 2-0, including in the teams' first encounter this season.
- Schalke had been the only team this season not to drop a single point after taking the lead until this game.
- The Royal Blues have 31 clean sheets against the capital club, which is more than against any other side.
- There have been eight penalties awarded in this fixture in Berlin – seven of them to Schalke. Domenico Tedesco’s side have scored a league-high 23 per cent of their goals this season from the spot (5/22).
Hertha: Jarstein – Stark, Lustenberger, Rekik – Lazaro, Grujic, Maier (Mittelstädt 87'), Plattenhardt - Duda (Darida 87') - Selke, Ibisevic (c) (Kalou 72')
Subs: Kraft, Torunarigha, Skjelbred, Köpke
Out: Kade (ankle), Leckie (Asian Cup), Luckassen (ankle)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Schalke: Nübel – Caligiuri, Sane, Nastasic, Oczipka – Stambouli (c) (Bentaleb 33'), Rudy – Schöpf (Serdar 27'), Uth, Konoplyanka - Skrzybski (Kutucu 76')
Subs: Fährmann, Mendyl, Mascarell, Wright
Out: Harit (hamstring), Burgstaller (Achilles), Di Santo (knee), Embolo (foot), McKennie (suspended)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco