The penalty area, which also implies the name, is a crime scene, and to stay punishable there is a very delicate matter. Especially for a defender, who does everything possible and necessary to stop his opponent, to prevent the goal, and in the penalty area to the conviction – or sometimes a desperate offender. And the final weapon is a monster broom.
However, it rarely happens that you can still secure the tracks left behind by a grazing defense monster. That was the case with Niklas Stark. In the first half of the match between Hertha BSC and Borussia Dortmund (2: 3) he slid so powerfully over the line of the six-yard box to block a shot by Jadon Sancho that a white chalk cross appeared there; and that could not have escaped Germany’s top football lane keeper on the VIP stand.
On Saturday, Joachim Lw came to the Berlin Olympic Stadium because he wanted to see his new international Stark. And he saw a center-back, who had given so much entertaining football night so much that he suffered in the end under calf cramps. Had he been motivated by the nomination for the upcoming international matches and Lw’s presence? “In the back of my head – or in the back of the ear – I had heard it once,” Stark said. “But I was not focused on the fact that the national coach is there.” Starks concentration was the protection of the penalty area and these intruders from Dortmund, whose cunning and finesse unfolded fully in the second half.
Dardai is not interested anymore
Strongly grabbed all footballing weapons. And he did that in spirit with his brothers-in-arms, who for a long time did not allow themselves to be pushed back, stood tall, covered closely. “We defended very well,” Stark rightly said. “Everyone was there, everyone participated, everyone went to their limits.” And some beyond. It was not enough anyway. It was not enough to prevent this goal in injury time and thus the defeat. “What would have happened if,” said Pal Dardai, “that does not interest anymore.”
Purely for professional reasons you have to contradict Hertha’s coach and ask: What would have been about if Karim Rekik had not deflected the ball before the 1-1 by Thomas Delaney? As many half and full own goals in series as last Dardai has experienced neither as a player nor as a coach. His theory: “At some point, happiness turns on.” Or what if Jordan Torunarigha did not get yellow after a fairly fair stint? For the clearly unfair seven minutes before the final whistle he got the second. The dismissal took Hertha’s defense stability, once again created larger gaps, increased the already strong fear of the late defeat. Salomon Kalou had even recognized “panic”.
And then there is the question: What would have been, if in the Cologne videocaller one had the idea to report the Strafraumtat to Ondrej Duda? Dardai: “For me that was a penalty.” For many others too. The alleged victim said: “He hits me, but whether it’s enough for a whistle, the referee must decide.”
Favre: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
This game was on from the first second on spectacle. And the mistakes were spectacular too. As in the 1-0 for Hertha, as goalkeeper Roman Brki a shot of Maximilian Mittelstdt bounced at the feet of Kalou. Or as in the 1-1 Delaney, which not only Torunarigha, but especially Valentino Lazaro assisted with a cross in the midfield.
Faulty, for Dortmund coach Lucien Favre “stupid, stupid, stupid” and a “shame”, is the rule that provides too many hand penalty this season. A rule that is not uniformly designed and leads to more irritation every week. This time it was the hand of Julian Weigl, who jerked reflexively after Duda’s flank attempt. The whistle so compliant, the 2: 1 by Kalou once again impressively relaxed exercise.
In the first half, which was soon over after the second lead, Hertha was started at full throttle. In the second with idle. Dardai described it like this: “Game starts, duel lost, duel lost, corner, corner goes in, 2: 2.” No one felt responsible for Dan-Axel Zagadou. At the same time, Dardai has special exercises done at half-time to maximize the tension in the heads and feet of his players. “It really was not like that,” said Rekik, “that Dortmund’s goals have worked out nicely, perhaps the third most likely.”
Hertha lacked the speed
The third in the second minute of stoppage time could actually be seen in any goal betting competition. As the ball painter Sancho found the pass gap, in which Marco Reus surrounded by five opponents still had the peace to hit the ball optimally – that was already admirable. Dardai called the Dortmund players “missiles, because we lacked the speed”. And finally, the power to close the rooms, to get into the duels earlier. “I also said to my teammates again,” said Lazaro, “that Dortmund winger are very fast and who has not got a yellow card, should look at the ball acceptance that they are there and should disturb the opponent vigorously.”
For an emotional footballer like Vedad Ibisevic, the mood must have been devastating after the clean sheet. And when Brki wanted to spend the last few seconds playing time, he threw the goalkeeper the ball to the head. “Funny,” said Pal Dardai, “that the referee has looked at this scene.” After evaluating the images, there was red for Ibisevic. Hertha’s captain was the last offender of the evening. The punishment will follow.