Hertha BSC put last weekend's woes behind them and courtesy of a Salomon Kalou hat-trick they overcame a mediocre Hannover 96 by three goals to one, at the HDI-Arena.
In a first half dominated by referee Christian Dingert's whistle, it was the Capital club that took advantage and took the lead midway through the half. Their second came at the same point in the second period; both goals characterised by lightning counterattacks. die Roten were gifted a lifeline with a Hiroshi Kiyotake penalty, but die Alte Dame sealed the match with a spot kick of their own, which Kalou converted for his hat-trick.
Tactical changes a plenty
Michael Frontzeck afforded only one change to the side that defeated HSV 2-1 at the Volksparkstadion last weekend; a small tactical change with Uffe Bech replacing Manuel Schmiedebach with Leon Andreasen moving into the heart of midfield alongside Salif Sané. The Dane, Bech, making his first start for die Roten since a 3-0 defeat against 1. FSV Mainz 05.
After a 4-1 demolition at the hands of André Schubert's Borussia Mönchengladbach prior to the game in Lower Saxony, Pál Dárdai completely revamped his side. Although there were only two personel changes, Jonathan Brooks and young German international Yanni Regäsel afforded his first Bundesliga start by the Hungarian at the expense of Valentin Stocker and Tolgay Cigerci. However the major changes came in formation, with die Alte Dame changing to an un-orthodox four three three; Mitchell Weiser moving to right midfield and Fabian Lustenberger deployed as the midfield anchor.
Christian Dingert dominant
The opening affrays of the game were dominated by countless petty freekick after freekick and it was clear from the on-set that referee Christian Dingert was not going to be lenient with his decisions. die Roten striker, Artur Sobiech falling foul of Dingert's wrath in the first five minutes receiving a yellow card for a flailing arm.
Yet it was to be directly from Dingert's decision making that would lead to the first opportunity of the game and would have been the opener had it not been for the heroics of Salif Sané. Both Mitchell Weiser and Yenni Regäsel up-ended before Vladimir Darida found Genki Haraguchi in acres of space in the following advantage; the Japanese twisted and turned and looked to have the goal at his mercy, save for the jugular Sané who commendably blocked the Hertha Berlin forwards eventual effort.
The appointment of Dingert however would've proved a good omen for die Alte Dame. The Capital club had yet to lose with the man from the Rhineland-Palatinate in charge.
Darida the dynamo
die Alte Dame went on to dominate large swathes of space as the half reached its midpoint and this was mainly down to the performance of Vladimir Darida. The Czech midfield dynamo was acting as a linchpin in possession, whilst adding an offensive threat with surging runs down the right flank.
It would be from one of these aforementioned forays into the Hannover 96 half that would bring about the next talking point in the evenings action. Some quick thinking from a Mitchell Weiser throw-in saw the former SC Freiburg man in behind the die Roten defence. Although the angle was tight Darida managed to let fly with a powerful effort that troubled the on-rushing Ron Robert Zieler.
However it wasn't the perfect half for the Hertha man, as he too fell foul of Dingert picking up a rather innocuous yellow for a seemingly perfect tackle on Salif Sané.
Kalou cracks the Hannover defence
Hertha were eventually rewarded for their intricut play just over ten minutes from the half, with the first goal of the game and it came as no surprise that Darida was at the heart of the action.
A Hannover attack was foiled by the Hertha defence, who together as a unit appeared impermeable througout; Salomon Kalou lead the breakaway at a gallop before finding Darida on the half way mark. The central midfielder brought the play forward and eventually found Haraguchi in his favoured left flank, who proceeded to cut in and feed the ball back to Kalou. The Ivorian set himself and before Zieler could stop to think the ball was already in the back of his net. A textbook counterattack from Pál Dárdai's side and was just reward for what had been an accomplished first half display.
Kiyotake offers Hertha some thought
Despite their efficiency, Hiroshi Kiyotake nearly hauled die Roten level at the break. The Japanese rifling a left footed effort just wide of Rune Jarstein's upright, which would have been undeserved in the run of play, yet offered die Alte Dame some thought that Hannover 96 were quite able of scoring if they themselves were complacent.
Hannover continue late half imputous
Die Roten started the second half with the impetus that Kiyotake's late half effort had given them and mounted some notable pressure in the early stages of the second period.
Uffe Bech on his return to first team action following a lengthy spell of the bench, started to work Marvin Plattenhardt after a rather innocuous first half. The Dane picked up the ball from deep and shimied across the Hertha BSC defence on numerous occasions but unfortunately for the man signed from FC Nordsjælland they came in haste as there was no end product.
Kalou strikes again
Although Michael Frontzeck's side had started the half the brighter, they would live to regret their failure to mount any significant pressure as Salomon Kalou was at hand to give die Alte Dame a two goal lead when a chance finally fell their way.
Similar to the opening goal, the attack came from a foiled Hannover 96 attack; the clearance was lofted over the die Roten defence, who occupied an unusually high line. That saw Kalou with a clear run at Ron Robert Zieler and the former Chelsea FC man waited for the perfect moment before sweeping the ball past the German international.
Hosts gifted lifeline
The Ivorians second looked to have given the visitors an unassailable lead, yet only moments after they had extended their advantage Marvin Plattenhardt gifted Hannover a lifeline in the form of a penalty. The former 1. FC Nürnberg defender hauled down Bech in the box and it was no surprise Dingert pointed to the spot.
Up-stepped set piece specialist Hiroshi Kiyotake, who made no mistakes with an inch perfect effort into the side-netting. It came as no surprise however, as Jarstein was yet to save a penalty in his Bundesliga career. The goal seemed to nerve Pál Dárdai's side and for the first time, Jonathan Brooks and Sebastian Langkamp began to look nervy and offered die Roten hope of an equaliser. The Hannover fans certainly believed a point was possible and were backing their players to the hilt.
Hertha home and dry
In the end Hertha were home and dry courtesy of another penalty and Salomon Kalou would go home with the match ball after he managed to get his hat-trick by beating Zieler from twelve yards.
This time the offending party was Salif Sané; the Senagalese tripped the turning Mitchell Weiser and Christian Dingert duly obliged. With a stuttered run up Kalou dispatched, with a workman-like approach and made the three points a certainty for die Alte Dame. Hannover 96's good second half work undone.