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Improvement wins a point

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In a game of two halves, VfL Bochum 1848 gained a valuable away point at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. Hosts Hertha took the lead from a headed goal by Belfodil but VfL Bochum returned completely changed after the interval and substitute Sebastian Polter took his first chance to put us level. There were even opportunities for more but in the end, we will travel home happy.

After the international break, VfL Bochum travelled to Hertha BSC Berlin who were trailing us by two points before the match. Due to Covid infections to Toto Losilla, Erhan Masovic and Eduard Löwen, VfL Bochum head coach Thomas Reis had to make several changes fielding Takuma Asano, back from international duties with Japan, in central midfield and old hand Robert Tesche behind him in a more defensive role. Up front, new addition Jürgen Locadia was supported by Gerrit Holtmann and Milos Pantovic on the wings, and Cristian Gamboa replaced Konstantinos Stafylidis at right-back with Manuel Riemann standing in as team captain.

Amongst the 3,000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium, the 100 travelling Bochum supporters made themselves heard right from the start, but it was Hertha with the better start when Darida let fly unmarked from outside the area but Manuel Rieman dived to his right and saved after four minutes. One minute later, Berlin threatened from a corner and Armel Bella-Kotchap had to put in a last-gasp block.

VfL Bochum were trying to employ Gerrit Holtmann’s speed without really being able to to penetrate the Hertha defence. In the 14th minute, Ascacibar took measure from about 25 yards but the ball flew over the crossbar.

After 20 minutes, VfL Bochum had a five versus four situation on the counter, but Asano’s pass wasn’t precise enough. Three minutes later, a Hertha free-kick from the left found Belfodil whose glancing header into the far corner left Riemann standing.

VfL Bochum pushed for the equaliser but it was Hertha who created the more dangerous situations with a cleared corner being hit by Mittelstädt and Leitsch deflecting the ball just wide of the goal.

Thomas Reis reacted to a rather underwhelming first half by introducing Polter and Osterhage instead of the visibly tired Asano and Tesche. After little more than two minutes, a long ball by Riemann found Polter who helped the ball on for Locadia with the latter wrongfooting a defender before shooting from 20 yards. Goalkeeper Schwolow palmed the ball to left for Polter to poach from seven yards.

After 50 minutes, there was a copy of the previous situation with Rexhbecaj shooting form the edge of the box and Schwolow fumbling the ball again only for Pantovic to get to the ball first and take it past the keeper whose dive sent Panto sprawling but there was no penalty awarded.

After 55 minutes, Ekkelenkamp was shown the first yellow card of the match for a tactical foul. It took the hosts 66 minutes to create another chance with Jovetic dribbling past several players and bending the ball towards the far corner only for Riemann to save the ball.

In the 71st minute, Antwi-Adjei came on for Holtmann, and five minutes later, Pantovic‘s effort from 18 yards went narrowly over the bar. VfL Bochum were in the driving seat now with Locadia coming close after 74 minutes but his shot going wide.

With VfL Bochum not sitting back but pushing for the winner, the match got more intense with yellow cards for Mittelstädt, Bella Kotchap, then for Richter. After 88 minutes, Tarsis Bonga was handed his top-flight debut and it took him just a minute to get to a corner but his effort went wide.

After three minutes of added time, the match ended in draw which takes us to 25 points before our home match with record champions FC Bayern München at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Saturday, 12 February, 3:30 p.m.

 

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