Hertha Berlin can no longer qualify for the UEFA Europa League knockout stages after Athletic Bilbao came from 2-1 down to win their Group J clash in Spain.
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
Goals: 0-1 Leckie (26’), 1-1 Aduriz (pen. 35’), 1-2 Selke (36’), 2-2 Aduriz (pen. 66’), 3-2 Inaki Williams (82’)
A thigh injury and international obligations had kept Mathew Leckie out of the Hertha team in recent weeks, but the Australian marked his return with a thumping header to give the visitors a deserved lead. Aritz Aduriz replied from the penalty spot within 10 minutes, but Hertha took only seconds to respond. Just as Maximilian Mittelstädt had done from the left for the opening goal, Valentino Lazaro supplied a perfect cross from the right for Davie Selke to nod home from close range.
Selke’s fourth goal in the group gave Pal Dardai’s men something to hold on to but, following a double change, the home side were much improved after the break. Aduriz headed over from a corner and the pressure continued to build until Bilbao were awarded a second penalty. Hertha skipper Sebastian Langkamp was again the unfortunate man to be penalised – this time, harshly, for handball – and Kraft could only touch Aduriz’s second spot-kick onto the post and in. Hertha’s nightmare second half was complete when a superb Bilbao counter attack ended with Inaki Williams sliding home the winning goal.
Bilbao: Herrerin – Lekue, Etxeita, Laporte, Balenziaga – Williams, San Jose (Iturraspe 46'), Rico, Aketxe (Susaeta 46'), Cordoba (Garcia 80') – Aduriz
Absentees: Benat (knee), De Marcos (ankle), Muniain (cruciate ligament), Nunez (suspended),
Coach: Cuco Ziganda
Hertha: Kraft – Weiser, Rekik, Langkamp (c), Plattenhardt – Mittelstädt, Maier, Lustenberger, Lazano (Ibisevic 80'), Leckie (Esswein 72') – Selke
Absentees: Darida (knee ligament), Schieber (knee), Stark (calf), Stocker (cruciate ligament)
Coach: Pal Dardai
- Berlin’s Salomon Kalou was a Europa League winner with Chelsea in 2012.
- The 0-0 draw in Berlin was the first-ever meeting between these clubs.
- Hertha’s only previous competitive match in Spain was a 3-1 loss at Barcelona in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League.
- Hertha won the now-defunct UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.
- Before tonight, Athletic had a perfectly balanced record against Bundesliga opposition (W4 D3 L4). It was W2, D2 and L1 at home.