It was party time in the Karneval city as Köln trounced Hertha Berlin 5-2 at the Rhein-Energie Stadion to push the capital club closer to the drop. A highly entertaining game saw the hosts capitalise fully on the visitors poor defensive ability and in the end five goals was somewhat of a let-off for Hertha. A Davie Selke header gave the home side the lead, but Hertha fought back with goals from Lucas Tousart and Stevan Jovetic. Köln got back in front before the interval with an excellent counter-attacking goal finished by Ellyes Skhiri. The second 45 minutes was all Köln and defender Timo Hubers added two more goals to heap the misery on Hertha. Here are five takeaways from tonight’s game…
1. Going, going…..
It isn’t over yet and much will depend on the results picked up by the teams above them, but the writing is very much on the wall for Hertha Berlin as direct relegation beckons. Pal Dardai had said pre-match that the Alte Dame needed three wins, but that was only a brief reality when they were 2-1 up.
For much of the second period they played like a team, who are resigned to their fate with Dardai looking on helplessly from the technical area. Even the saviour it seems cannot save Hertha.
2. Another nightmare on the road
Hertha’s impending relegation wasn’t due to tonight’s drubbing, but has been a painful, agonising process. A key factor though has been their abysmal form on their travels. Against Bayern and VfB Stuttgart in their last two home games they have shown glimpses of some fight, but once again away from home they have been found massively wanting.
They have now lost eleven of their last twelve away matches and have only two wins to show for their previous 28 games on the road.
3. Nothing to play for? Not under Steffen Baumgart!
If Hertha thought they might have been in for an easier ride because opponents Köln in theory had nothing to play for, they were rudely mistaken. Steffen Baumgart, in the week he signed a new contract until 2025 had his team up for the match and they pressed and countered at times as if they were the team desperate for the points.
They fed off the crowd and the third goal in particular summed up their approach with Ellyes Skhiri winning possession near the corner flag, before getting on the end of a lightning counter-attack to restore the lead before half-time.
4. Oliver Christensen kept the score down!
When you think about fun jobs you might like to try- being the Hertha Berlin goalkeeper would not appear on many people’s list for good reason. It has been a thankless task this season for Oliver Christensen this season as the last line of defence behind a highly porous back line. The Dane was busy again tonight and if it hadn’t been for his numerous top saves, it could have been seven or eight conceded rather than just five.
5. Concussion protocol needed?
The fact that Davie Selke opened the scoring with a typical number nine header seemed almost written in the stars against his old club, but he was left seeing stars after a clash of heads with Filip Uremovic. The Croatian was forced off, but Selke stayed on for almost 15 minutes before succumbing to his own head injury.
The question continues to be raised concerning head injuries and the need for a protocol (as in rugby) where there is a mandatory off-field check that needs to be conducted before a player continues. This would also reduce the number of players faking head injuries in order to get play stopped.