The buildup was dominated by Hertha’s move under cover of darkness on Monday to plant about 60,000 flags around the German capital’s 12 districts. No fans were allowed to attend the game due to a lockdown aimed at bringing coronavirus numbers under control.
The streets in and around the Olympiastadion were deserted. Normally there would have been thousands of fans milling around in anticipation of the match, lubricating their singing voices with mulled wine, sausages and beer.
Stewards checking journalists’ credentials complained of boredom ahead of what remains one of the highlights of the season for both clubs.
But the players showed no ill effect from the lack of atmosphere, crunching into tackles with full commitment as the game got off to a tough start.
There were consequently few chances until Marcus Ingvartsen eluded two Hertha defenders to play Awoniyi through. The on-loan Liverpool forward struck enough of the ball to score past Alexander Schwolow.
Andrich was sent off three minutes later for his challenge on Lucas Tousart. Andrich, who formerly played for Hertha’s reserve team, caught the French midfielder in the side of his head with his boot.
Union concentrated on defense, ceding possession to the home side. Hertha was unable to capitalize initially. Its game was summed up when Matteo Guendouzi played the ball to no one from a promising position and threw his arms out in frustration.
Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia reacted with two changes at the break, bringing on speedy winger Javairo Dilrosun for Tousart and striker Piatek for the ineffective Vladimir Darida.
But the equalizer came from an unlikely source. Pekarik gratefully returned the rebound after Luthe stopped Matheus Cunha’s shot from distance.
Luthe again looked suspect when he kicked the ball out under pressure to a Hertha player, a move that culminated with Piatek scoring with a shot deflected in by Union defender Julian Ryerson in the 74th.
The Polish striker then sealed the result with a volley inside the far post after a rebound came back off Ryerson.
“We showed we are a better team than Union and that was very important,” said Piatek, whose team remains five points behind its cross-town rival.
Union’s derby ended with top-scorer Max Kruse limping off the pitch with assistance in injury time.
Hertha’s players celebrated after the final whistle in front of the empty east stand where their most fervent supporters would normally be.
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