Hertha Berlin cemented third place in the Bundesliga standings thanks to a 2-0 victory at home to FC Schalke 04 in the Matchday 26 opener on Friday night.
Just a point separated Hertha from their visitors going into this game, and with both sides determined to take a step towards guaranteeing UEFA Champions League football next season, fireworks were expected. The match failed to live up to its billing early on, but became increasingly lively as the half wore on, culminating in Vedad Ibisevic's goal just before the break to put Hertha ahead.
Schalke started the second half strongly and should have equalised when a flowing passing move ended with Dennis Aogo through on goal, but the defender could only drag his shot wide. It proved to be a costly miss as Hertha doubled their lead shortly afterwards, Niklas Stark flicking in a header from a corner. With Schalke subsequently throwing greater numbers forward, Hertha almost scored again on the break but their failure to do so mattered little in a game they comfortably saw over the line.
Man of the match
Ibisevic was excellent throughout the game, his movement and physical presence a handful for the Schalke defence. The Bosnian's well-taken goal before the break hurt the visitors' resolve and was vital in securing all three points for the hosts.
Hertha deserved their victory thanks to an energetic and well-drilled performance. If they do end up in the Champions League next term, as looks increasingly likely, they will not look out of place at Europe's top table.
- Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter named the same starting XI for a third consecutive game.
- The Royal Blues have now conceded seven league goals from corners this season.
- Stark scored his first ever Bundesliga goal in his 37th top-flight outing.
- This was Hertha's first league win over Schalke in almost ten years.
Hertha: Jarstein – Weiser, Stark, Brooks, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred (c), Cigerci – Haraguchi, Darida (Baumjohann 90'), Kalou (Stocker 90+2') – Ibisevic (Hegeler 88')
Schalke: Fährmann – Caicara, Matip, Neustädter, Aogo – Geis (Di Santo 68'), Höjbjerg – Schöpf (Sane 68'), Meyer (Sam 76'), Belhanda – Huntelaar (c)