Photo by Russell James Smith (russelljsmith; Flickr CC)
Four-two has to be the most exciting score line in football. Four-twos are always rollicking, rip-roaring affairs, full off intrigue and subtexts that boring old one-nils and one-sided thrashings simply can’t produce. A four-two raises a middle finger to prudence and embraces adventure as both teams insouciantly throw caution to the wind, the thin line between death and glory creaking under the weight of the enchanted fans’ expectation. Imagine 1966 without Geoff Hurst’s last-minute slam into the top corner, and Kenneth Wolstenholme’s accompanying iconic commentary. Just doesn’t have the same feeling of pure, unadulterated fun to it, does it?
Hertha’s 4-2 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf won’t have such a lasting effect on the annals of history, but goodness, it was a romping good game. Right up until Adrián Ramos’ delicious chip with the last kick of the game put the icing on the cake, and Hertha back on top of the 2. Bundesliga table, only a fool or a football pundit would have ventured to predict the final score. And with the half-time score at a standard-issue 1-1, only the bravest of fools could have prophesied what was to come.
When Düsseldorf’s Andreas Lambertz cancelled out Nikita Rukavytysa’s angled drive to tie the score at 2-2 with just over twenty minutes to play, neither team was content to settle for the draw. Attacks swerved from end to end, and Maikel Aerts in the Hertha goal had to be alert to keep out a cross-shot from Sascha Dum.
In the end, it was Hertha and Pierre-Michel Lasogga who swiped the advantage, pouncing on the loose ball after good work from Rukavytysa and firing it past Düsseldorf keeper Melka. Andreas Lambertz ruined his two-goal afternoon by also picking up two cards, one of them red, for hacking down Fanol Perdedaj. After an impressive cameo in Oberhausen last week, the youngster filled in for the injured Peter Niemeyer and looked occasionally overwhelmed in the centre of midfield.
Hertha’s Australian winger Nikita Rukavytysa was the difference between the two teams, weighing in with a goal and two assists and constantly threatening with his direct running and dangerous crossing. The assists were his seventh and eighth of the season, and his contributions this year have nicely filled in the Patrick Ebert-shaped hole on the Hertha flanks. Rumours were abound before the game that Ebert could make his long-awaited comeback from a cruciate ligament injury in today’s fixture, but in the end he didn’t even make the bench. The Ostkurve will have to wait another couple of weeks to see the return of their favourite son, which could be in the upcoming Berliner derby on Feb 5. Before that though, Hertha travel to rock-bottom Arminia Bielefeld with a two-point advantage over Augsburg at the top of the table.
Off the pitch, there have been some interesting developments at the Olympiastadion. Hertha’s poor financial state is no secret, with total debts coming close to €40 million. Last week, however, it was revealed that a secret investor has thrown €8 million into the club, which will be used to service debt rather than to improve the playing squad. We know nothing more about this footballing Santa Claus other than they are German citizens and residents, and that the investment guarantees that Hertha will be able to fulfill the financial requirements to be granted a licence to play either in the Bundesliga or 2.Bundesliga next season.
It’s also possible that Adrian Ramos will be sold before the end of the transfer window, with greedy eyes all over Europe checking out the Colombian. Ramos himself seems as much in the dark about his future as the rest of us, telling BZ "I don’t know what’s happening. I can only promise that I’ll work hard". With his two goals dismissing Düsseldorf, he’s certainly keeping his promise.