Goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Ondrej Duda, and Salomon Kalou gave Hertha Berlin a comfortable victory over VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, with Mario Gomez netting a second-half consolation for the relegation-threatened visitors.
Hertha Berlin 3-1 VfB Stuttgart
Goals: 1-0 Ibisevic (40’), 2-0 Duda (45’+1), 3-0 Kalou (67'), 3-1 Gomez (70')
Hertha had most of the early possession, but had trouble finding a way through to goal. With points at a premium, Stuttgart were unwilling to let anything slip, and held to a strategy built upon a defence marshalled by FIFA World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard. Hertha kept pressing, however, and were rewarded when Mathew Leckie got his head to a ball into the box and directed it on target. Ron-Robert Zieler stretched to get his hands to it, but could only direct it to the feet of Hertha captain Ibisevic, who stuck it in the back of the net. The home side would grab a second just five minutes later, when Duda and Ibisevic combined nicely through the middle. Duda set his captain up for a shot, which Zieler once again blocked, only for the rebound to fall perfectly for the Slovakia international to fire into the top corner.
At the start of the second half, Stuttgart manager Nico Willig turned to veteran striker Gomez in a bid to get back into the match. The change gave VfB more possession, if not a goal. In a near mirror image of the first half, Hertha were content to let the visitors have the ball and soak up the pressure. With just over an hour played, Javairo Dilrosun came on after Leckie suffered an unfortunate injury. The young attacker made an immediate impact, flying past his marker on the left wing and putting the ball on a plate for Kalou to force over the line for Hertha’s third. Stuttgart had an immediate response this time; Borna Sosa crossed into the middle of the area and Gomez headed in his sixth career goal for Stuttgart against the Old Lady. The visitors pushed for more but could not find it, leaving the gap to Schalke in 15th at six points with two games to go.
- Whenever Ibisevic has scored the opening goal of a match, Hertha have gone on to win it. They’ve now done it 18 times during the Bosnian’s tenure at the club.
- Ibisevic’s opener briefly made him Hertha’s joint-top goalscorer with 10 goals. That status would last only five minutes before Duda scored his 11th of the season.
- Hertha have picked up more points at home to Stuttgart (70) than they have against any other current Bundesliga club.
- Gomez’s goal was his first as a substitute since December 2012, when he scored against Augsburg for Bayern Munich.
- Gomez is now Stuttgart’s all-time joint-top scorer against Hertha. Both he and Cacau have scored six goals against the capital club.
- With a goal difference of -41 compared to Schalke's -18, Stuttgart are on course for a first-ever relegation playoff.
Hertha: Jarstein - Lazaro, Lustenberger, Rekik, Plattenhardt - Skjelbred (Grujic 61'), Mittelstädt - Leckie (Dilrosun 66'), Duda, Kalou - Ibisevic (c) (Selke 71')
Unused subs: Smarsch, Pekarik, Köpke, Torunarigha
Out: Palk. Dardai (ankle), Darida (knee), Klünter (suspended), Kraft (neck), Maier (knee), Stark (ankle)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Stuttgart: Zieler - Pavard, Kabak, Kempf, Sosa - Beck (c) (Gentner 64'), Castro, Aogo - Didavi - Donis (Esswein 57'), Gonzalez (Gomez 46')
Unused subs: Grahl, Baumgartl, Thommy, Badstuber
Out: Ascacibar (suspended), Maffeo (not considered), Zuber (knee)
Coach: Nico Willig