The first points are on the board following a 1-1 draw away at Hertha Berlin, but Werder Bremen will leave the German capital a little disappointed after a much improved second 45 minutes against the Old Lady.
Viktor Skripnik handed a full debut to former AZ Alkmaar forward Aron Johannsson up front alongside Anthony Ujah with Maximillian Eggestein also handed a first start. Fin Bartels made the bench.
It was a tentative start from both sides with careful ball possession the watch word. The game though sparked into life in only the 6th minute when the first real attack of note resulted in a Hertha goal.
Philipp Bargfrede did well to tackle Genki Haraguchi inside the area without conceding a penalty. The resulting corner saw a shot from Jens Hegeler blocked, but Swiss midfielder Valentin Stocker was the first to react and blasted an unstoppable shot into the Bremen net.
The goal seemed to unnerve Werder and they lacked the calmness and accuracy needed. Theo Gebre-Selassie and Clemens Fritz got important clearing headers in as the hosts gained in confidence.
Hertha were enjoying a good time of it down their right with Peter Pekarik and Haraguchi combining very well and it seemed they were targeting young full-back Ulisses Garcia.
Clemens Fritz was charging around like he’d forgotten his age (34), while Eggestein was struggling to get into the action with Werder’s main pressure coming from their attacking full-backs.
The visitors from the Weser began to equalise the possession stats and were rewarded with an equalizer on 26 minutes. Like Hertha’s opener it was a loose ball that was capitalised upon. Garcia’s cross found the head of Anthony Ujah, but when his effort was blocked, the Nigerian striker reacted quickest to stab the ball home.
Captain Fritz didn’t calm down during the interval and after a few committed, robust challenges, went into the referee’s book before Max Eggestein’s disappointing night came to an end with Bartels replacing him on the hour mark.
Werder looked the better side as the second half progressed but just lacked the creativity and penetration to get the upper hand. The curse of the own-goal then very nearly worked in Werder’s favour when a glanced header from Sebastian Langkamp skidded onto the Berlin crossbar following a Zlatko Junuzović freekick.
The woodwork saved Hertha soon after when Jannik Vestergaard directed a good header onto the foot of the post.
In the end, a point was the sum total for Werder’s effort’s but at least a second loss was avoided. The second half was a much better affair for the Grün-Weißen and with a bit more luck they could have sneaked all three points.
Veterans Fritz and Bargfrede had impressive games, but both Johannsson and Eggestein will be disappointed with their displays. Assani Lukimya was solid at the back and 19-year-old Ulisses Garcia once again showed great promise.
Next up for Werder is a late Sunday home fixture against Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Hertha travel to Dortmund in the early Sunday match.
1-0 Stocker (6) 1-1 Ujah (26)
Hertha Berlin: Kraft, Pekarik, Langkamp, Lustenberger, Plattenhardt, Skjelbred, Haraguchi, Darida, Stocker (Brooks 89), Hegeler (Weiser 75), Kalou (Baumjohan 82)
Werder Bremen: Wiedwald, Gebre-Selassie, Lukimya, Vestergaard, Garcia U, Bargfrede, Fritz, Junuzovic (Galvez 90), Eggestein (Bartels 63), Johannsson (Öztunali 80), Ujah
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