Hertha Berlin were dumped from the DFB Pokal in the first round on Friday night as they lost 5-4 to second divison side Eintracht Braunschweig.
Polish striker Martin Kobylanski shone for Braunschweig as his hat-trick kept them a step ahead of Berlin throughout the tie. A goal from Suleiman Abdullahi and an own-goal from Maximilian Mittelstadt ensured punishment of the highest order for Hertha’s meager performance, eliminating them from the competition in its curtain-raiser.
Eintracht took the lead within a minute when Kobylanski converted a free-kick from distance, sending the ball bouncing beyond the reach of new signing Alexander Schwolow.
Matheus Cunha posed a strong threat to the Braunschweig goal, asking questions of their three man defence and goalkeeper Jasmin Fejzic. The defending was desperate yet effective. The lead was doubled fifteen minutes later when Mittelstadt turned in an unfortunate deflection off a powerful shot.
Hertha continued to pile pressure on Fejzic despite the two-goal deficit. They finally got off the mark through winger Dodi Lukebakio, who met Cunha’s corner well and powered a perfect header into the top-left corner.
The first half drew to a close with Cunha’s equalising goal being quashed on the brink of the break by Kobylanski’s second of the evening, in which he pounced on a rebound inside the box to rifle the ball into the back of the net.
Hertha struck back after twenty minutes of relentless pressure when Cunha’s expertly-placed cross split the defence and found Peter Pekarik at the far post to slot home into an empty goal. It was not to last long, however, as Braunschweig retook the lead less than a minute later with a beautiful strike from Kobylanski found the bottom left corner from beyond the penalty area.
Further poor defending by Hertha beckoned the fifth goal shortly afterwards, as Abdullahi latched onto a loose ball inside the penalty area to beat Schwolow with ease.
Lukebakio struck for a second time within the final ten minutes to set the ball rolling for a late Hertha resurgence, but they appeared rushed in their movement and paved the way for a series of mistakes which saw the late stages pale into insignificance.
28-year-old goalkeeper Schwolow, on his first competitive appearance for Hertha, told the club’s website, “It was a nightmare game. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. It was terrible. A disaster. We had the dream of making it to the final."
“Braunschweig were very lucky.”
Meanwhile, social media was filled with upset Berlin fans who couldn't fully believe what had happened. After such a promising offseason, there was hope for the upcoming campaign, but that optimism may have already been cut down.
In terms of Eintracht Braunschweig's cup run, the draw for the second round of the DFB Pokal will be on September 20th, with the matches set to take place at the end of December.