Ngankam replies to Grifo as Freiburg draw with Hertha


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Freiburg were unable to find a late winner in what was a scrappy game, which saw Jessic Ngankam equalise for BSC in the 77th minute in behind a high SCF defensive line. 

It was a quiet start to the game, during which the guests had more of the ball: Hertha also had the first chance of the game after ten minutes. Lucas Tousart drove past Kenneth Schmidt on the right side of the penalty box and put a flat cross in, only finding Matthias Ginter. Ginter was playing in a back three alongside Manuel Gulde and the aforementioned Schimdt, who was making his first Bundesliga start for Freiburg. Lukas Kübler was absent today due to illness. As well as Schmidt, Lucas Höler was a new face in the starting XI compared to SCF’s most recent 1-1 draw against FSV Mainz 05. He replaced the suspended Michael Gregoritsch. 

Kevin Prince-Boateng made his first appearance since the Berlin derby on matchday 1, with former Freiburg player Florian Niederlechner starting on the bench. 

Grifo and Höler come close 

The centre of BSC’s midfield was made up of Boateng, Tolga Cigerci and Lucas Tousart, and they tightened up the spaces in the centre of the park. As SC had struggled against the robust capital-city side at the start of the game, it was no surprise that their first real opportunities came from set pieces. Vincenzo Grifo tried his luck from a free kick from 26 metres out, but it landed safely in the hands of Hertha keeper Oliver Christensen (26’), who also comfortably caught Lucas Höler’s head from a corner (27’). At the other end of the pitch, Dodi Lukebakio narrowly missed Mark Flekken’s goal with his head following a Jonjoe Kenny cross (32’). 

Christian Streich described the opposition as a “well-structured team” in his pre-match press conference, and he was right. Maximilian Eggestein’s long shot missed the target in what was the last highlight of the first half (42’). 

Free-kick routine opens the scoring 

The rain began to fall during the half-time break, which meant the ball zipped across the surface a little quicker in the second period, which Vincenzo Grifo used to his advantage in the 52nd minute. He initially laid a free kick from 18 metres off to Günter, who then stopped the ball ready to shoot for his left-sided teammate. The Italy international then curled the ball towards the bottom right corner from the edge of the penalty box, and it went in via a deflection for 1-0. 

After SCF scored their 999th Bundesliga goal, the Old Lady then had two chances for a quick equaliser at the sold of Europa-Park Stadion. First, Lukebakio missed a one-on-one against Flekken, who stretched a foot out to deny the Belgian (56’), and then Höler cleared Tousart’s header off the line (59’). 

“I think the spaces opened up more in the second half, and that was okay. But we conceded an equaliser that we never should have,” commented Streich after the final whistle. 

Ngankam scores the leveller 

Freiburg then controlled much of game, before the capital-city side scored a shock equaliser. Germany U21 international Jessic Ngankam got in behind the Freiburg defence, used his body to shrug off second-half substitute Jonathan Schmid and slotted past the onrushing Mark Flekken for 1-1 (77’). Just one minute later, Doan missed a huge chance to restore SCF’s lead. Schmid’s cross didn’t land perfectly for the Japan international, and rather came off the post, meaning the winger was unable to tap the ball in. 

Substitute Nils Pedersen had a big opportunity in the 93rd minute, but he too could not find the back of the net. Therefore, it ended 1-1, and head coach Streich had the following to say about the game: “It’s extremely annoying. We conceded in the 96th minute against Mainz, and today we let our lead slip. We had to win at least one of them. It’s a terrible, but deserved, result.” 

The draw leaves Freiburg in fourth after 26 matches and extends their home unbeaten run to 12 matches. Their next game is on Tuesday in the DFB-Pokal quarterfinals. They travel to face FC Bayern München, in what is SCF’s latest opportunity to register a first win over the German record champions. 

Photos: Achim Keller

Ngankam replies to Grifo as Freiburg draw with Hertha

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