DAVID SMITH - Friday, July 29, 2016
John Brooks made a return to Hertha's starting lineup on Thursday as they grabbed the advantage in Europa League qualification against Brøndby thanks to honorary YA Vedad Ibisevic.
Hertha we the favorites coming into the two-legged tie, but were forced to fight tooth and nail for the advantage, with a moment of brilliance from the former St. Louis Billiken player Ibisevic.
Following a scoreless opening 20 minutes, a Brøndby foul just inside their defensive half gave the hosts the chance to put their pieces into place for a restart.
The free kick was initially sent over to the right flank and then quickly moved forward to Mitchell Wiese at the upper right corner of the area. Wieser lofted a short cross to the center of the area, where Ibisevic, back to goal, stunned the crowd by launching himself into the air to connect with an unbelievable bicycle kick that flew past the keeper for the 1-0 score.
After keeping the upper hand, although without further reward, for the duration, the hosts looked to have added another to their total when Sebastian Langkamp kneed the ball into goal in the 81st minute following a corner, but the referee called it back having judged Brooks' central defense partner to have committed a foul on the play.
With the victory, the Berliners have the clear upper hand for next Thursday's return leg at Brøndby, needing only a draw to secure advancement, and also knowing that a one-goal loss could be enough as well.
Unlike their Danish counterparts, the team is still several weeks away from the start of their regular season, and will have the advantage to solely focus on next week's game in the coming days.