In the northeastern part of Bielefelder Alm, preparations for the relegation celebration were already underway. The mood among Hertha BSC fans was thrilling. And so it was: First VfB equalized in Stuttgart, then a collective scream from almost 25,000 Bielefeld fans shook Alm – and thus the confidence of the guests from Berlin.
Joakim Nilsson, Arminia’s central defender, headed shortly after added time to 1-1 (0-1) for Bielefeld.
“You could say we’re a little angry,” said Hertha midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng. The Berliners had no influence on the result in Stuttgart, but they themselves gave up the victory in Bielefeld. Shortly before the equalizer, Luca Wollschläger, 19-year-old Bundesliga debut, ran towards the Bielefeld goal. Instead of shooting, he passed the ball to Maximilian Mittelstädt.
And Mittelstadt? Instead of shooting, he laid the ball across to Wallschläger, but so inaccurately that he could not reach the ball.
The chance to make it 2-0 was missed, as was the chance to at least prevent direct relegation two games before the end. “Now it’s two more games,” Hertha coach Felix Magath said.
It was quite annoying after the course of the game and its dramaturgy. In any case, Hertha’s situation has not gotten worse as a result of a draw in Bielefeld. The Berliners maintained their four points ahead of Stuttgarters in the relegation series, and at Bielefeld as the penultimate there are still six points – with two games left. “We have to take the positive with us,” Boateng said.
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Lucas Tousart heads 1-0 to Hertha BSC
This is obviously less difficult for the players than for their coach. “We are going back to Berlin with a lot of confidence,” claimed Bundesliga debutant Wollschläger. But Magath, who even before the match, despite the comfortable starting position, had expressed himself as cautious to scared, sounded rather fatalistic after the draw.
At the press conference, he told that when he joined Berlin six weeks ago, he assumed that he would meet his former club, Hamburger SV, in the relegation after the season with Hertha. “I’m not working towards that,” Magath said. “But I would not be surprised if it came to this constellation.”
Thanks to its middle height, HSV actually has chances of relegation again, but with Hertha a lot had to go wrong in the showdown against Mainz and Dortmund to slip down to third place. About as much as in the final minutes of Bielefeld. Until the late equalizer, the Berliners had played clearly under control. “We controlled it well over long distances,” Magath said
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His team was sufficiently set up on the ball, gave Arminia some space and rarely came in danger against the offensively conservative Bielefeld team. In addition, the Berliners had the better options. Davie Selke was most involved. His first header after two minutes was still too harmless. It looked much better in the middle of the first half when Hertha’s midfielder came to an end after a precise cross from Marvin Plattenhardt, but failed from three yards out by the brilliantly responsive Stefan Ortega.
Bielefeld, on the other hand, also showed against Hertha why they have the weakest offensive in the league and why attack is not their thing. “Everyone is breaking,” read a banner on her basket. But nothing progressed with the Armin. After 37 minutes, Hertha goalkeeper Marcel Lotka intervened for the first and only time before the break, when Masaya Okugawa appeared completely free in front of him. It was not necessary because the Japanese had been offside. “It was a typical relegation duel from start to finish,” Magath said. With a lot of fighting, a bit of playful class, with excitement in the stands and a lot of drama at the end.
The second half started much healthier – because Bielefeld took more risks and had the great opportunity to lead through veteran Gonzalo Castro. His shot flew over the goal. And then the first hit fell on the other side. Lucas Tousart headed in from a Plattenhardt corner in the 55th minute to make it 1-0.
At this point and with this goal, Hertha, who seemed hopelessly sentenced to death just a few weeks ago, was rescued. Bielefeld, on the other hand, was close to despair and no longer seemed to be able to jeopardize the Berliners’ victory. Then the overtime began.