Franco Di Santo made an unforgettable return after injury to inspire Bremen to victory over Hertha Berlin
Franco Di Santo made an unforgettable return after injury to inspire Bremen to victory over Hertha Berlin

Di Santo brace leads Bremen to victory over Hertha

Bremen - Franco Di Santo marked his first Bundesliga appearance since November with a brace to inspire SV Werder Bremen to a 2-0 win over an insipid Hertha Berlin.

Hosts on top

The Argentinian crowned Bremen's first-half dominance with a brilliant strike on the stroke of half time, before adding an even better second in the 69th minute to hand the hosts a thoroughly deserved victory.

Bremen, with six wins in their last six home matches against Hertha, made plain their aggressive intentions early. Zlatko Junuzovic’s set-pieces were a regular feature of the first ten minutes as a panicked Hertha defence struggled to cope with efforts from Davie Selke and debutant Jannik Vestergaard. Valentin Stocker’s tenth-minute breakaway was a microcosm of Hertha’s efforts throughout; the counter-attack which he initiated petered out harmlessly.

Indeed, when Hertha did manage to relieve themselves of Bremen’s calm ball retention, the hosts’ defence, marshalled by Vestergaard, was well organised and untroubled, and twice Viktor Skripnik’s men should have opened the scoring in a dominant period before the half-hour mark. Philipp Bargfrede’s long-distance strike dipped just wide of the post, while Selke’s powerful effort cutting in from the right went one better, forcing Thomas Kraft into a low save.

Welcome back, Franco

As Bremen came closer to the opener, Junuzovic drawing an excellent block in the 36th minute, Hertha seemed further away than ever, as Ronny blazed a rare shot into the stands. Bargfrede again came close in the 41st minute, denied superbly by Kraft, but the custodian could do nothing about Di Santo’s brilliant opener two minutes later. Taking the ball in his stride on the right-hand side of the box, the Argentinian clipped a seventh goal of the season effortlessly into the far corner to give his side a deserved lead at the break.

In an attempt to alter the balance of play, Hertha coach Jos Luhukay replaced Peter Niemeyer and Nico Schulz with Johannes van den Bergh and Marcel Ndjeng at half-time, and although his side continued to struggle offensively, the subsequent switch to 3-5-2 stifled Bremen. Only Fin Bartels and Zlatko Junuzovic tested Hertha’s best player, Kraft, before the hour mark, but neither effort was in danger of troubling the scoreboard.

At the double

Not to be cowed by Hertha’s new strategy, die Grün-Weißen went looking for the second goal their enterprising performance deserved. Junuzovic continued to probe centrally, while Selke was a perennial lurking threat. It was the youngster’s clever pass to the overlapping Clemens Fritz which created Di Santo’s, and Werder’s, second. Fritz’s resultant deep cross was met by a flying volley from the Argentinian, which bounced kindly and left Kraft with no hope.

An organised defence ensured that Bremen were untroubled in closing out the game, and Selke would have increased the margin of victory late on were it not for Kraft's outstreched arm. As it was, Bremen's 2-0 win was as comprehensive as they come, and lifts Viktor Skripnik's side into 12th position.

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