It could have gone wrong just before the end. Vladimir Darida unintentionally headed the ball towards his own goal in a very dangerous manner. In the previous season, Bundesliga club Hertha BSC might have conceded an unfortunate goal in this way.
But this time goalkeeper Oliver Christensen was there with his best save of the game. Then things went really fast: a long shot from right-back Jonjoe Kenny, a long run from striker Davie Selke and, after his cross, midfielder Marco Richter made it 2-0 in the game at FC Augsburg.
It was the perfect end to a successful business trip for Hertha. Because the goal finally removed all doubts about the first competitive win, which was “extremely important”, as coach Sandro Schwarz said – and because Richter scored the goal. In the second short assignment after surviving cancer, against the club where he had turned professional, in front of his family in the stands. He was a bit jittery before he got Selke’s ball in front of the goal, “because I’ve given it away before,” admitted Richter.
This time the 24-year-old stayed very cool, made a small detour around goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz and then pushed in. The midfielder then used his right index finger to indicate who largely owned the goal: Davie Selke.
“Of course, my goal was the icing on the cake for me, but I’m most happy for the team because we finally got our reward,” said Richter. Coach Schwarz made the icing on the cake and said: “It was very emotional. First and foremost, it’s about Marco as a person. We are happy that he is healthy and can pursue his passion of being on the pitch every day again.”
Something else was added to the great emotions: “Pure relief,” President Kay Bernstein later wrote on Twitter. A feeling that prevailed in many. And investor Lars Windhorst was simply “super happy”.
During the break, when it was still 0-0, Schwarz made it clear to the team “that we don’t want to be praised again for our performance and then have no result in our hands.” But this time they had something in their hands. “The win was deserved, we wanted it from the first minute,” said captain Marvin Plattenhardt, whose precise cross on Dodi Lukebakio had made the opening goal possible.
Wilfried Kanga stood in this scene as a symbol of the great commitment of the team. The striker didn’t score again, but won the ball against Jeffrey Gouweleeuw before the 1-0 and played his part in the goal.
Hertha may have played better football in some of the previous games. But in Augsburg, factors such as commitment and passion decided – not unexpectedly. “We defended well as a team because we were always active,” said Schwarz. If you work a lot, you are lucky: For example, in the middle of the first half, Filip Uremovic, who had just returned from a suspension, fouled Ermedin Demirovic. There have already been referees who have shown the red card in such situations. Uremovic only saw a yellow card from Harm Osmers.
Overall, after the shaky start, with a total of seven goals conceded in the DFB Cup at Eintracht Braunschweig and in the league at 1. FC Union, the defense has been gaining in stability for weeks. Now there was the reward in the form of the first game under Black without conceding a goal.
Of course, there are still good things to do. For example, after winning the ball, Black had seen “definitely potential for improvement”. But the victory helps on several levels: In the table, the Berliners are no longer just ahead of place 18, but have an eye on midfield. And psychologically it was a liberation. If there had been renewed disappointment, the first doubts might have crept in, and the pressure would have increased significantly. But now it looks different: “The quality of life changes shortly after the game in the dressing room, that’s logical. The next morning also feels better,” said Schwarz.
From Tuesday, however, the full focus should be on the next opponent Bayer Leverkusen, who comes to the Olympic Stadium on Saturday at 3.30 p.m. Bayer got off to a pretty devastating start with five defeats in six competitive games – including being out of the DFB Cup at third division club SV Elversberg – and is 14th with just three points.
In terms of the quality of the squad, however, the team can be rated much higher. Hertha will have to improve compared to the Augsburg game. But Schwarz is in good spirits, because: “Results accelerate the development process.” And the first really satisfactory result has been there since Sunday afternoon.