Deep in the basement of the Olympic Stadium, Pal Dardai happily posed for a fan photo. But the young lady next to him didn't want a snapshot with the Hertha coach. Dardai took the misunderstanding with humor and instead made himself available for a cell phone recording with her very pleased companion and Hertha scarf. Dardai obviously preferred his position mistake shortly after the final whistle to a possible faux pas by his team.
This had set the hoped-for first signal in the relegation battle in the 2-1 (2-1) win against VfB Stuttgart. "You can stay in the league that way, it was a deserved result," said Dardai, adding: "We were masters against the ball and even with the ball." That hadn't been the case in the combination for the Berliners for a long time.
Hertha's "four games four wins" plan
Florian Niederlechner received extra praise. With his debut goal (45.2), the attacker played a large part in Hertha's first victory in the Bundesliga after eight unsuccessful attempts in front of 63,443 spectators in the Olympic Stadium. Marc Oliver Kempf (29th minute) initially put the Berliners in the lead, Serhou Guirassy (38th) scored the Stuttgart equaliser.
"Four games, four wins": Dardai sent his team into the final spurt of the season with this clear objective. Now the Hertha team have to up their game against 1. FC Köln and then against VfL Bochum and VfL Wolfsburg on Friday. Because Hertha is still in last place in the table.
After all, Stuttgart and VfL Bochum are still within reach with a lead of only three points. FC Schalke 04 is five points ahead and can therefore still be overtaken. "It was an important first step today and I hope that the second important step will follow next week," said Niederlechner.
The Stuttgarters had carelessly missed that important step in the relegation battle. Tiredness and a lack of mental freshness after the 2:3 in the DFB Cup semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt were one aspect. Full-back Borna Sosa stated a chronic inability to act against deep opponents. Coach Sebastian Hoeneß didn't want to produce any alarmism at all. "We still have two home games and every chance of staying in class," said the VfB coach.
Niederlechner scores for Hertha for the first time
Dardai also senses the chance of staying in the class after the first step of his daring "four games four wins" plan was fulfilled. And that with classic Dardai football. Control always takes precedence over risk. The offensive actions were dosed. There was only celebration when ex-Stuttgarter Kempf headed a cross from Marco Richter into the goal. For the first time since mid-March against Mainz, Hertha was back in the lead.
The Stuttgarters, who also didn't proliferate with attacking accents, could rely on classic Berlin shortcomings. Richter, Marvin Plattenhardt and Kempf were undecided on a VfB cross. Guirassy thanked me.
The fact that Dardai's wife Monika was still able to clap happily in the stands at halftime was due to a premiere. In stoppage time, Niederlechner tipped a free-kick cross through the legs of VfB goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow over the line. It was the attacker's first Hertha goal since moving from Augsburg at the beginning of the year.
Control was also the Hertha motto in the second half. An early counterattack by Dodi Lukebakio (51st) could have calmed things down. Inconsistency in the switching game annoyed Dardai the most afterwards. "We've won ten balls with a majority and we can't get a deal. It'll be difficult if we can't counterattack," warned the Hertha coach.