Union Berlin 3-1 Hertha Berlin
(Siebatcheu 32′, Becker 50′, Knoche 54′ — Lukebakio 85′)
Stadion an der Alten Försterei, Köpenick
Union Berlin recorded a comprehensive 3-1 derby win against already beleaguered neighbors Hertha in the sun-drenched Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Stadion in the Old Forester’s House) on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga.
Despite a summer of changes for the visitors, it was business as usual on the pitch as Union Hertha chopped apart in just four passes to open the scoring in the 32nd minute, with Theoson Siebatcheu’s header giving him his first Bundesliga goal.
American striker Jordan Siebatcheu scores on his Bundesliga debut
The home side pressed for dominance five minutes after the restart as Sheraldo Becker overtook Filip Uremovic and shot past goalkeeper Oliver Christensen in front of a bouncing “Waldseite” terrace.
Union’s current supremacy in this match was confirmed – even if there was a slight delay in the celebrations as the video assistant referee (VAR) checked for offside – when Robin Knoche headed into Christopher Trimmel’s corner.
Dodi Lukebakio beat Andras Schäfer with some fine footwork before driving home a consolation to Hertha five minutes from time, but it didn’t detract from the cheers from the home crowd as they celebrated a fourth derby win in a row.
Hertha had only survived the fall to Bundesliga 2 at the end of last season via a relegation playoff win over Hamburg, but any hope Hertha fans had for the season of a fresh start has quickly been dimmed.
After the appointment of Sandro Schwarz (ex-Mainz 05) as head coach and former ultra Kay Bernstein as new club president, Hertha’s fans were promised the ushering of a new era.
New coach Sandro Schwarz faces a major task to restore Hertha’s confidence
Bernstein praised the fans who had traveled to the Alte Försterei ahead of the game and told Sky: “We’ve suffered a lot lately, but look how many fans are left. That gives us courage and confidence that we can turn this around. and then we’ll see what’s possible here.”
From kick-off there seemed to be few positives, with the retrospective of the visitors enduring a scorching foray.
With all the bite and energy expected from an opening day of the season derby, Union found continuous joy on both flanks via Trimmel and Julian Ryerson.
Urs Fischer’s team was rewarded for their exuberance in front of goal when Janik Haberer caught an indirect free kick in his own half. The midfielder’s second goal found Becker on the left and the striker’s cross was deftly thrown into the back of the net by Siebatcheu.
Schwarz had claimed before the derby that he wanted Hertha “to march forward, have charisma and develop a group dynamic – that will be crucial.”
But whatever the team conversation at halftime in the Hertha locker room was, it had no effect on the team’s fortunes when they returned to the field.
The free-flowing Union would not be denied for a second as Harberer fed Becker, who left Uremovic on the floor to race clear and double the home side’s lead.
“We conceded far too easily goals,” said new captain Marvin Plattenhardt. “These are exactly the problems we have to solve in the coming weeks. And we also have to increase it offensively so that we get more scoring opportunities.”
But Hertha looked all the way out to sea and Union went for the kill – Konche came in from the precise angle of Trimmel, with Khedira’s possible interference being considered to have no bearing on the attack.
With Union taking their foot off the pedal, Hertha got a little more time on the ball and Lukebakio took a rare opportunity in front of goal, but like much of last season it was too little too late.
“We’ve lost another derby, and nobody here likes that,” Plattenhardt said, but when asked if Hertha was in an unstoppable downward spiral, he insisted:
“I don’t see it that way. I think we have taken a step forward in preparation. We have developed as a team. We are currently missing goals. We have to put that behind us and move on.”