1. FC Köln 0-1 Hertha BSC: Ibisevic's strike seals three points for capital club

Hertha BSC defeated Köln on match day 23 to stay in the third and final Champions League spot, with a bigger cushion over Bayer Leverkusen.

1. FC Köln 0-1 Hertha BSC: Ibisevic's strike seals three points for capital club
Photo: Getty
1. FC Köln
0 1
Hertha BSC
1. FC Köln: Horn; Heintz, Mavraj, Maroh; Mladenovic (Hosiner, min. 59), Hector (Jojic, min. 69), Lehmann, Risse; Bittencourt (Hartel, min. 79), Gerhardt, Modeste
Hertha BSC: Jarstein; Plattenhardt, Brooks, Stark, Pekarik; Haraguchi (Stocker, min. 90), Lustenberger (Hegeler, min. 68), Skjelbred, Weiser; Kalou (Baumjohann, min. 79), Ibisevic
SCORE: 0-1, min. 42, Ibisevic
REFEREE: Tobias Stieler (DEU). Admonished Modeste (min. 52), Brooks (min. 67), Plattenhardt (min. 71), Jojic (min. 78)

Vedad Ibisevic found the back of the net for the first time in 2016 in Hertha's first win during league play in the calendar year as they knocked off Köln by a 0-1 score at the RhineEnergieStadion. 

It took just three minutes for the hosts to test Rune Jastein and it came off of a set piece straight from the training ground. Marcel Risse used his right foot to swing a ball towards Mergim Mavraj who hit it first-time on the volley only to have it graze the side netting. Köln went on the attack again four minutes later through Anthony Modeste as he found space in behind the Hertha defense. His shot, though, was weak and Jarstein saved it comfortably, diving to his right. 

The visitors finally got a good look at goal 19 minutes into the match with Vedad Ibisevic's deflected pass finding Salomon Kalou. The effort in the end should have been better as it soared over the top of the frame. Next, Genki Haraguchi found space well outside the eighteen yard box, in the 23rd minute, only to see his shot tipped just over the crossbar by Timo Horn. Filip Mladenovic, and Köln, really opened up the Hertha defense four minutes after the half hour mark as the 24-year-old danced his way into the penalty area and unleashing a decent shot that Jarstein saved well.

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Controlled possession pays off for visitors

Three minutes before the halftime whistle was set to blow, Hertha opened up the scoring after a spell of possession. Kalou threaded a perfectly weighted pass to Vedad Ibisevic, who kept onside, slipped as he kicked the ball, but still managed to fool Horn as his shot found the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This goal will surely give Ibisevic confidence considering the fact that this was his first goal of the calendar year. 

Haraguchi had the first look at the target in the second half as he worked his way inside the six yard box only to pull off a weak effort in which Horn stopped with ease. 

That was the last good chance of the night for Hertha as they had to buckle down on the defensive side of the pitch with Köln pushing forward every chance they got in search of an equalizing goal. 

Hertha's defense stands strong

This onslaught started in the 59th minute when Mladenovic and Leonardo Bittencourt exchanged a couple of quick one-two's before the former twisted his body enough to get a reasonable look at goal in which Jarstein stopped comfortably. 

Marcel Risse had the hosts best chance of the latter interval as he unleashed a curling shot off of his left foot, which is his weaker of the two, and put it just wide of the top left corner. Then, after being on the pitch for a few minutes, former Borussia Dortmand midfielder, Milos Jojic, struck from long range only for it to go wide of the far post in the 81st minute. Anthony Modeste, who had been rather invisible for much of the match, stuck his left foot out and got a touch on a nice pass from Risse that bounced off of the frame of the goal. 

Hertha's victory not only gives Pal Dardai's men confidence, but they also remain in the third and final Champions League for another week.