Sandro Schwarz announced the same starting eleven for matchday 27 on Saturday evening that picked up a point against Freiburg a week earlier. The five in midfield around Prince Boateng were in front of a back three of Filip Uremović, Marc Kempf and Márton Dárdai, with Wilfried Kanga and Dodi Lukébakio starting in attack. Marco Richter (yellow card suspension) and Stevan Jovetić (calf problems) returned to the squad. For RB Leipzig, Kevin Kampl and Emil Forsberg replaced the injured Konrad Laimer and Dani Olmo, who both started in their cup match.
Dangerous but no reward
Hertha came into the match in front of 50,579 spectators with tenacity and compactness. The first chances, however, came for Leipzig through Timo Werner, who comfortably missed the target under pressure from Kempf (4’), and Forsberg, who was unable to beat Oliver Christensen (5’). Hertha brought their first attacking impetus with a series of free kicks and corners, but these were without reward (15’). In the following period, the game opened up and Schwarz’s eleven were defensively sound but unable to find the gaps going forward despite some bold attempts. In a strong period for the home side, a free kick by Plattenhardt from more than 20 yards sailed over the bar (28’).
After a corner from Hertha’s number 21, the luck went against them as they were unable to put the ball over the line in a goal mouth scramble (34’). Bad fortune then followed: Christensen and Mohamed Simakan came together in the six-yard box from a corner and the centre-back headed the ball, which Hertha’s goalkeeper saved before Amadou Haidara tapped the ball over the line, making it 1-0 to Leipzig (39’). The visitors’ lead was upheld after a VAR check on both a foul on the goalkeeper and offside.
Even after the break, Hertha put in a good performance against the DFB-Pokal holders. Janis Blaswich was first able to claim a free kick from Tolga Ciğerci (52’), and shortly after Kanga just missed a ball played into the penalty area (55’). Hertha’s will was unbroken: Lukébakio played the ball to Prince in a promising position, but he was caught up (60’). For the opposition, Benjamin Henrichs fired a shot too high (61’). Hertha’s head coach reacted half an hour before the end and changed to a 4-3-3, which Serdar, Richter and Ngankam replacing Ciğerci, Kenny and Prince (62’). Four minutes later, Lucas Tousart headed over a Plattenhardt free-kick (66’). The Saxons were also looking to make their way forward, but Christensen saved against Raum from a tight angle (68’).
Schwarz made another two changes in the final period: Florian Niederlechner and Jovetić were substituted on to give their all in place of Kanga and Uremović and attempt to pick up at least a point (73’). Just ten minutes later, Hertha came very close to equalising, but an outstretched foot from Blaswich prevented Serdar from making it 1-1 (82’). Dominik Szosboszlai made use of the space that Hertha were forced to allow, but he couldn’t beat Christensen (86’). It was not time to give up, however, and Richter took a long shot which fired over the crossbar (89’), and the last efforts didn’t bring any success either, such that Hertha had to take a 1-0 defeat in the end.
Hertha BSC: Christensen – Uremović (74‘ Niederlechner), Kempf, Dárdai – Kenny (62‘ Richter), Ciğerci (62‘ Serdar), Tousart, Prince (62‘ Ngankam), Plattenhardt (C) – Lukébakio, Kanga (74‘ Jovetić)
RB Leipzig: Blaswich – Simakan, Orban (C), Gvardiol – Henrichs, Haidara (78‘ Klostermann), Kampl, Raum (84‘ Halstenberg) – Szoboszlai, Werner (63‘ Silva), Forsberg (63‘ Olmo)
Goals: 0-1 Haidara (39‘)
Referee: Denzi Aytekin
Yellow cards: Lukébakio, Uremović, Prince, Kanga – Szoboszlai, Haidara, Simakan