Hertha Berlin came out the victors in tonight’s top-of-the-table clash match against second place Eintracht Braunschweig. A strong 3-0 victory with a pair from Ronny and an excellent solo run by Adrián Ramos sealed the victory for Jos Luhukay’s men in front of a 51,000 crowd at the Olympiastadion, of which 10,000 had made all their way from Lower Saxony.
The game couldn’t have started better for the Berliners as the best news of the night came before the ball was even kicked. The scoreboard announced that Ronny, their best player this season by a considerable distance, after much speculation had extended his contract at the club until 2017. A picture of him and a smiling Michael Preetz was to set the tone for the night as it was the Brazilian who was the big star of the match.
Being just one point behind leaders Hertha, Eintracht Braunschweig have been this season’s surprise package and despite tonight’s loss look set to join Hertha in the Bundesliga next season. However, quite unlike their match in the Hinrunde, tonight was quite one-sided and had a clear victor at the end. Tonight wasn’t about tactics as both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 system so individualities were set to decide the match.
The game endured a slow start despite Deniz Dogan’s overhead kick that went just over but it slowed down even more when Hertha capitain Peter Niemeyer clashed heads with Eintracht defender Ermin Bičakčić and had to be taken off looking dazed, being replaced by Alfredo Morales.
Whilst Hertha had the ball, Eintracht kept committing fouls in dangerous positions and with the opposition having someone as dangerous as Ronny from set pieces, it didn’t seem like the greatest of ideas. Funnily enough, the Brazilian didn’t seem too inspired with his deliveries and most of them failed to reach any of his teammates if the area at all, many of them hitting the wall. But this turned out to be the way forward. Another free-kick was conceded on the edge of the area and Ronny hit it powerfully and straight at the wall, taking a slight deflection and going under Daniel Davari’s hands in the Eintracht goal. With just over half an hour goal, it was a perfect way for Ronny and his fans to celebrate his new contract and his 15th goal of the season.
Eintracht could have easily gone into the break level but Ermin Bičakčić nodded just wide from inside the area after a free-kick from Kevin Kratz. It seemed easier to score but the Bosnian-born defender still managed to miss his side’s best chance of the game.
The second half brought stronger dominance from the home side and Eintracht were happy to sit back tight and break on the counter. Adrian Ramos and Sammi Allagui seemed to play in a more forward position as opposed to their too deep and ineffective positions in the first half. Ronny could have doubled his tally just a minute into the second half but somehow, much like Bičakčić, managed to miss an open goal. After Peer Kluge’s square ball had left him with an open goal, Ronny slotted the ball wide of the post. However, ten minutes later Adrian Ramos made amends for his teammate’s miss and his poor first half performance. Having picked up a ball wide on the right, he beat Eintracht captain Deniz Dogan for speed and moved into the area, finishing the move with an exquisite dink over the goalkeeper to put his side 2-0 up.
There was only one star tonight and he was determined not to let Ramos’ excellent goal outshine him. Fifteen minutes from the close, Ronny once again had a free-kick on the edge of the area but this time he thunderbolted it into the back of the net, leaving Davari flapping his hands in thin air.
Eintracht had a couple of clear chances in the second half but were unable to get past Kraft. There was only one team who performed tonight and that wasn’t Torsten Lieberknecht’s men. Hertha showing of power tonight leaves them on the edge of promotion. They could be a Bundesliga team for the 2013/14 season from as soon as next week, if Kaiserslautern do not beat Erzgebirge Aue next Monday night and Hertha win at Ingolstadt. Braunschweig’s chances of getting promoted did not take a big hit tonight as they are still ten points ahead of Kaiserslautern and, unless a disaster occurs, they should join the capital team in the top division next year, an amazing feat for a team that was being touted for relegation at the beginning of the season.
What could have turned out to be a bad week for Hertha, with Ronny’s agent saying in the press that if Hertha didn’t make a move to extend his contract by the end of the week they would sign for a Bundesliga club, and a crucial match against their closest rivals, ended up being an excellent one. Hertha showed who’s boss in die Zweite; Eintracht will have learned a tough lesson which could come in handy for next season.
Hertha: Kraft, Schulz, Brooks, Kobiashvili, Pekarik, Niemeyer (Morales, 11′), Kluge (Janker, 77′); Lustenberger, Allagui, Ronny, Ramos (Lasogga, 80′).
Braunschweig: Davari, Dogan, Theuerkauf, Correia, Bičakčić, Pfitzner (Ademi, 58′), Petersch (Chengdong, 58′), Kratz, Boland, Elabdellaoui (Erwig-Drüppel, 84′), Kumbela.
Referee: P. Gagelmann
Venue: Olympiastadion, Berlin