Berlin (AFP) – Julian Schieber’s injury-time winner sealed Hertha Berlin’s 2-1 victory at home to newly-promoted Freiburg on Sunday for a dramatic start to the hosts’ 2016/17 German league season.
Hertha were cruising to a 1-0 win at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga, thanks to Vladimir Darida’s second-half goal before the game burst into life in the final ten minutes.
Ex-Dortmund striker Schieber came off the bench for Vedad Ibisevic with 85 minutes gone and played a key role after Freiburg drew level with a stunning header from their captain Nicolas Hoefler in the 93rd minute.
But with visiting Freiburg fans still cheering, Hertha roared back as Schieber latched onto a blocked shot from Japan winger Genki Haraguchi and his crude shot rolled into the goal in the 95th minute of a match affected by high temperatures.
Blue skies over Germany saw the mercury hit 35 degrees Celcius in the shade in the capital and the players were often reduced to walking pace in Berlin.
The hosts dominated possession and were rewarded with the three points after creating the better chances.
They hit the crossbar when Haraguchi had his second-half shot saved, but the ball hit the woodwork when Hoefler headed away after 57 minutes.
Berlin went ahead five minutes later when Haraguchi played the ball into Ibisevic, whose pass found Darida unmarked and his shot beat Freiburg goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow.
Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou, who suffered a double bereavement in the last two weeks following the death of his mother and father, was left on Hertha’s bench for the final ten minutes.
The match in Berlin was not the only one affected by high temperatures over Germany at the weekend.
Borussia Dortmund players admitted suffering in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Mainz, which kicked off at 1530 local time (1330 GMT) when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice.
Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday night was also affected as the temperature hit the high 30s across Germany.
On Friday, last season’s champions Bayern Munich kicked-off the season with a 6-0 hammering of Werder Bremen at the Allianz Arena.
Poland hot-shot Robert Lewandowski, the 2015/16 top-scorer in Germany with 30 goals, netted a hat-trick for Bayern to resume his rivalry with Aubameyang, who scored 25 times to finish second.
Later on Sunday, RB Leipzig, who were only founded in 2009 when Austrian energy drinks firm Red Bull bought their licence, will make their debut in Germany’s top flight away to Hoffenheim after winning four promotions in seven years.