Lukebakio unties the Berlin knot

FC Augsburg and Hertha BSC don’t have much in common, but their situation was similar before the meeting on Sunday. After the disappointments of the past few years, many things are supposed to improve at both locations. But it hadn’t meant too well for them this season either. Goal scoring in particular has been difficult for both teams so far. The Augsburgers had only created a few chances, but at least used them quite consistently with the best odds in the league. The Berliners, on the other hand, often came to conclusions, but were noticed on the first four matchdays with the worst conversion of chances in the entire league.

It is therefore not surprising that the direct comparison ended with very few goals. But at least: Hertha won 2-0 (0-0) – mainly thanks to Dodi Lukebakio’s header to take the lead (57th), before former Augsburg Marco Richter scored late (90th + 3) – in the second Game after testicular cancer. It was the first win of the season for the Berliners – and the first with coach Sandro Schwarz. After five league games, Hertha now have four points, while FCA have three.

It was part of the picture of the course of the season that both managing directors had already been busy sharpening the squad at the end of the transfer summer. Hertha manager Fredi Bobic looked at the long winter break because of the World Cup in Qatar. His Augsburg colleague Stefan Reuter decided a few days ago to make a short-term correction – by loaning striker Mergim Berisha, 24, from Fenerbahce Istanbul. The signing of the former Salzburger came with the realization that Ricardo Pepi, 19, needs more time to become a dangerous first division striker. At €16m, the American is by far the most expensive transfer in FCA history, but he hasn’t scored a goal since arriving in January. Now he is to continue his acclimatization in Europe as a loan player at Groningen in the Eredivisie.

Augsburg is the more dangerous team in the first half

On the other hand, they trust Berisha in Augsburg to be able to provide the desired emergency aid even without experience in the German Bundesliga. This confidence is also due to the fact that the former U21 international of the DFB has already successfully tested himself at the highest level. Berisha played six games in the Champions League for RB Salzburg and scored four goals, two of them against Bayern Munich.

On Sunday, Berisha fitted in with a lot of presence in Augsburg. Coach Enrico Maassen put him in the starting XI right away and Berisha initially revived the offensive. He was involved in almost all dangerous situations, including a shot at the outer post (28th). Shortly before, he had staged his fellow striker Demirovic with a through pass, but Hertha’s Filip Uremovic was the last man to end the attack with a clamp grab, for which he probably would have received a rating in wrestling, but was lucky here that it was Harm Osmers left at yellow. According to the referee, Plattenhardt, who had run along, could still have intervened.

At least Hertha had two notable goals before the break. But Marc-Oliver Kempf’s header and Chidera Ejuke’s flick missed the goal. Lukebakio was the first to get the ball on target in the second half, and because his header landed in the net from the left after Plattenhardt’s cross, the Berliners celebrated their third goal of the season and Lukebakio’s second. Kenny and Kanga could have raised later, but missed. Only Richter caught up on what had been missed.

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