Second-half strikes from Vincenzo Grifo and Nils Petersen ensured that Vedad Ibisevic’s penalty amounted to nothing, moving the Breisgau-Brasilianer just one point adrift of Wolfsburg in the hotly-contested Europa League qualifying spot.
Story of the match
Freiburg, who came into the match four points above Hertha, had the beating of their debilitated visitors across the pitch in the first half. They were ruthless in their attack, but could not find the net.
Hertha were equally as frustrated going forwards as Freiburg’s resolute defending restricted them to only a single shot on goal.
The second half started in much the same vein as Die Alte Dame, who were without eight of their usual first-team players, whimpered into submission.
Dodi Lukebakio thought he had put the visitors ahead early in the half when he rifled a beautiful strike into the top corner from distance. Following a brief look at the VAR monitor, referee Tobias Stieler waved the goal off and brandished a yellow card in the direction of Vladimir Darida for a foul in the build-up.
Hertha looked shellshocked from that moment on.
Grifo found the breakthrough just beyond the hour mark when his curling free-kick effort caught Norwegian goalkeeper Rune Jarstein off guard and snuck in off the post, despite a heavy hand from the Hertha shot-stopper.
Hertha captain Ibisevic buried a penalty to bring the scores level, but, less than five minutes later, poor distribution from Jarstein saw Darida caught in possession by Petersen, who powered the ball beyond the hapless goalkeeper.
Dedryck Boyata is much-needed
The most notable change to the side from last week was the omission of Dedryck Boyata, who was out with a suspension following a straight red card against Eintracht Frankfurt. When on the pitch, Hertha have conceded just three times in six matches.
Since his dismissal on Saturday, Die Alte Dame have allowed six goals in 135 minutes of football. His presence commands the Hertha defence, establishes order and shape ,and he is a superb ball-player as well.
Freiburg should not be written out of Europe yet
Although obvious points-wise, Freiburg look to be safe bets to not only reach the Europa League qualifying stages, but continue on to the group stages.
They were very well organised on Tuesday, and despite Christian Streich’s men failing to provide a clinical touch for most of the game, they looked mightily good in front of goal.
Man of the match: Vincenzo Grifo
In what was a relatively poor game, the Italian Grifo shone in the midfield. As well as scoring the opening goal through a technically excellent free-kick, the 27-year-old created opportunities aplenty for his teammates – none of whom converted. Nonetheless, Grifo was still able to lead his team to victory.