Bruno Labbadia continued his dream start to life at the helm of Hertha BSC on Friday night as Die Alte Dame cruised to a 4-0 victory over capital counterparts 1. FC Union Berlin at the historical Olympiastadion.
Hertha’s devastating attack ran riot as goals flew in from Vedad Ibisevic, Dodi Lukebakio, Matheus Cunha and Dedryck Boyata.
Hertha began the match on the front foot and they posed a real threat to Rafal Gikiewicz in the Union goal. Brazilian forward Cunha saw several opportunities fall his way, including a pretty flick-on, but the Polish goalkeeper matched his efforts.
As the clock ticked towards halftime, the visitors began to find their feet and work their way back into the tie. Despite brimming with confidence going forward, Hertha’s defence seemed shaky and unauthoritative, which allowed Union to prise their way into the final third.
Die Eisernen came mightily close to taking the lead with a ferocious free-kick from distance, but the ball fell just over the crossbar. They failed to manage a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes.
The first half petered out into relative insignificance. Despite the lack of atmosphere and fans in the stadium, it had all the hallmarks of a local derby, as brutal challenges flew in from both sides.
Only one booking was awarded to each Hertha and Union, as Michael Parensen was carded for the visitors within ten minutes, and Lukebakio received a caution on the brink of halftime.
As the cliché goes, Hertha came out for the second half looking a totally different side from the one that had walked down the tunnel 15 minutes earlier.
Die Alte Dame’s veteran linchpin, Ibisevic, opened the scoring within ten minutes of the restart, after he met Marvin Plattenhardt’s inch-perfect cross with a thumping header.
Just as they did last week against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Hertha doubled their lead immediately after kick-off. Stellar defending from Marko Grujic sent the ball forward to Bosnian Ibisevic, who selflessly set Lukebakio in on goal. The Belgian forward expertly guided the ball around the on-rushing goalkeeper before calmly squeezing it into the goal.
Union’s heads dropped and their football was tired and careless, which came back to bite them yet again when 20-year-old Cunha fired a sensational, curling strike from distance into the bottom corner, his fourth Bundesliga goal since signing in January.
The scoring was rounded off by the unlikely source of centre-back Boyata, who darted in at the far post to nod home a well-delivered corner.
What this result means
Labbadia, who was brought in to the blue side of Berlin in April following the departure of Jurgen Klinsmann, is growing with his players and showing he is more than capable of restoring Hertha’s glory days.
Now with two clean-sheet wins from his two matches in charge, the German will be thrilled with what he has seen, and given so much time to discover the weaknesses before the new season, Hertha could yet become a force to be reckoned with.
Friday’s win pushes Hertha even further away from the impending doom of relegation, as they now sit 10th in the Bundesliga, 11 points clear of the relegation playoff spot. Even more incredibly, Die Alte Dame find themselves just five points behind the Europa League qualifying place, currently occupied by VfL Wolfsburg.
As for the visitors, their lingering relegation fires will have been reignited following the crushing defeat, which sees them only seven points off the drop in 12th place. Union’s woeful away form continues.