Freiburg - SC Freiburg were denied their first win of the season as Hertha Berlin battled their way to a 1-1 draw on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Mage Solar Stadion.
Out of the blocks
The hosts got off to a perfect start when Admir Mehmedi continued his rich vein of goalscoring with the simplest of finishes, but went in level at the break after Per Skjelbred put an end to Hertha’s run of 233 minutes without a goal. However, neither side could find the decisive winner as each took a share of the spoils in a hard-fought encounter.
Fresh from their disappointing UEFA Europa League draw in midweek and with less than 72 hours to prepare for Hertha’s visit, head coach Christian Streich opted against making wholesale changes to his squad. His charges duly rewarded the decision, banishing any thoughts of a European hangover within six minutes of kick-off as Mehmedi broke the offside trap to collect Sebastian Freis’ well-timed through ball, before rounding the onrushing Thomas Kraft and rolling into an empty net.
Freiburg kept themselves on the front foot by utilising the room afforded to them by the visitors, though twice failed to capitalise on promising opportunities with nobody able to apply the finishing touches on pull-backs from Jonathan Schmid and Freis. Berlin began imposing themselves on proceedings approaching the half-hour mark, but Oliver Baumann was on hand to prevent Ronny’s looping, long-range free-kick from finding the net, the visitors' best chance up until then.
Freiburg's free-flowing attacking play had abated somewhat, yet having kept the capital city side at arm’s length for the majority of the first half, it looked like the hosts would be taking a lead in at the break. However, that all changed with five minutes remaining when Ronny’s long throw wasn’t dealt with, allowing Per Skjelbred to sneak in at the far post and tap home the equaliser.
The hosts looked nervous after the break as they set themselves up to absorb pressure, handing Hertha the upper hand as they boasted close to 70 per cent of possession in the opening quarter of a hour of the second period. However, goalscoring opportunities were few and far between with both sides’ cancelling each other out in the final third as a result of some intense defensive work.
Sebastian Kerk went closest to adding to the scoreline when the ball fell kindly on the edge of the area, but his first-time curling effort flew inches wide, hitting the stanchion behind the goal instead of the back of the net. With time wearing on, the added burden of a midweek European fixture began taking its toll on Freiburg’s performance, with tired legs leading to an increasing amount of mistakes.
The introductions of Mike Hanke and Sami Allagui for either side briefly added a spark back into the match, with the latter’s back heel playing in strike-partner Adrian Ramos to draw a smart save from Baumann, before the Freiburg keeper again made the difference, getting fingertips to Levan Kobiashvili’s strike. At the other end Gelson Fernandes and Matthias Ginter both squandered golden opportunities, but in the end neither side could wrestle away all three points from the evenly-contested encounter.
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