Krzysztof Piatek came off the bench to score twice and earn Hertha Berlin their first home win of the season as they huffed and puffed to a 3-1 derby victory over Union Berlin in Friday's Matchday 10 curtain-raiser.
Hertha had the worst home record in the division before kick-off, and after a short trip across the German capital, Union quickly made themselves cosy in the Olympiastadion. While the hosts struggled for fluency, Union soon found their stride and fabulously nimble footwork from Marcus Ingvartsen teed up Taiwo Awoniyi for a drilled left-foot finish. As low as the on-loan Liverpool forward's shot skimmed over the turf, Robert Andrich's foot was high as he challenged Lucas Tousart, catching the Hertha midfielder in the neck - referee Felix Brych had little hesitation in reducing Union to ten men just three minutes after they had gone ahead. The visitors handled the setback well. Max Kruse flashed a volley over the crossbar, though Urs Fischer's men needed Julian Ryerson to prevent Dodi Lukebakio turning in a Vladimir Darida cross-shot just before the break.
Mateus Cunha had scored three times in his last two home appearances, and the Brazilian seemed Hertha's most likely source of an equaliser. Surprisingly, he wasn't, but it was his shot that was pushed out by Andreas Luthe to Peter Pekarik, and the right-back fired into the net. An unsightly scramble in the Hertha box might have allowed Marvin Friedrich to restore the ten men's lead; instead, half-time substitute Piatek delivered the decisive blows at the opposite end of the pitch. Barely in the game up till then, the Poland international struck twice from crosses from Javairo Dilrosun, who had also come off the bench at the break: Piatek's first came with the help of a hefty deflection off Friedrich, the second from Ryerson's miscued clearance as Union helped their neighbours to only a second win in nine league games.
- Piatek registered his first Bundesliga brace - he's now scored five of his seven goals in the German top flight as a substitute.
- Awoniyi's goal was his second in three Bundesliga appearances.
- Andrich is the first Union player ever to be sent off twice in the German top flight.
- Pekarik picked up his second goal of the season. He had previously found the net just once in 188 Bundesliga games before the 2020/21 campaign.
- Hertha fell behind for the sixth time this season, but avoided defeat for the first time.
- Hertha had picked up just a point from their previous four home games.
Watch: Piatek: "We are a team, in good and bad moments"
Hertha: Schwolow - Pekarik (Zeefuik 90'+2), Boyata (c), Torunarigha, Plattenhardt - Tousart (Dilrosun 46'), Stark, Guendouzi - Darida (Piatek 46') - Lukebakio (Mittelstädt 85'), Cunha (Leckie 90'+2)
Unused subs: Jarstein, Dardai, Löwen, Ngankam
Out: Alderete (pelvis), Ascacibar (muscular), Cordoba (ankle)
Coach: Bruno Labbadia
Union: Luthe - Friedrich, Knoche, Ryerson (Teuchert 82') - Trimmel (c) (Bülter 78'), Andrich, Prömel (Becker 82'), Lenz (Gießelmann 77') - Kruse, Ingvartsen - Awoniyi (Griesbeck 54')
Unused subs: Karius, Gogia, Maciejewski, Endo
Out: Gentner (calf), Hübner (groin), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Schlotterbeck (thigh), Ujah (knee)
Coach: Urs Fischer