Berlin - Germany's capital came to a standstill on Monday night as its two principle clubs locked horns in a derby match that more than matched up to its lofty expectations.

Hertha BSC Berlin and 1. FC Union Berlin share a footballing rivalry steeped in tradition. Despite the fact that both sides are currently in the second tier, the game attracted over 74,000 fans, quite a feat considering most of Europe’s top leagues struggle to match such figures for a top-flight encounter.

Stakes high

Football is special in Berlin, as it is all over Germany, so when Hertha and Union met for Monday night's derby, the eyes of a city were on the Olympiastadion to witness history in the making. And when the stakes are as high as they were this year - with both clubs seeking promotion to the Bundesliga - excitement was guaranteed.

Just nine minutes into the match itself, the minority of a sell-out crowd sprang from their seats in celebration of Union’s opening goal. Simon Terodde was on hand to tuck the ball in after Torsten Mattuschka’s shot had been parried by Thomas Kraft.

Fitting finale

Early in the second period, Union doubled their lead to leave large sections of the Olympiastadion silent. Mattuschka was the provider once again with a cross which was met with a towering header from Adam Nemec on the edge of the six-yard box. Hertha responded positively this time, though, and eventually mustered an equaliser through Adrian Ramos in the 73rd minute.

The stage was set for a grandstand finish befitting of the occasion - and the finale did not disappoint. Brazilian star Ronny hammered in a 25-yard direct free-kick to bring Hertha level just four minutes before the curtain came down on a dramatic derby and footballing spectacle which surely will have left an entire city in high spirits.

Ben Gladwell