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“Fair decision” says Hertha coach as VAR denies son and team late penalty


Berlin (AFP) – Hertha Berlin coach Pal Dardai defended the referee’s decision to reverse a late penalty, won by his own son, which cost his team the chance to climb third in the Bundesliga on Sunday after the video assistant referee (VAR) was used in their 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg.

Hertha playmaker Ondrej Duda fired home his sixth league goal of the season only for Freiburg to equalise through defender Robin Koch before the break.

The draw leaves Hertha fifth in the table with Bayern Munich third after their 3-1 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday with Borussia Dortmund top after their 4-0 hammering of Stuttgart.  

However, there was late drama at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday afternoon when Hertha were awarded a penalty two minutes from time.

Berlin midfielder Palko Dardai, the 19-year-old son of the Hertha coach, went down in the area after challenging Freiburg defender Manuel Gulde, but replays showed the Hertha player instigated the fall. 

Referee Benjamin Cortus rightly reversed his decision to award a spot-kick, much to the annoyance of the home fans in the 48,000-strong crowd, but the Berlin boss gracefully accepted the decision.

“It wasn’t the wrong decision,” said Hertha coach Dardai.

“After the first half, we had clear chances to go ahead.

“We conceded a goal in the second half from a deflected shot, that was annoying.

“We were missing the final touches and those last passes, so we accept the result.”

Hertha took the lead when Duda scored with just seven minutes gone.

Norway midfielder Per Skjelbred picked out the attacking midfielder and Slovakian star Duda fired home from a tight angle.

However, Freiburg have a reputation for fighting back and Christian Streich’s youthful side equalised before half-time.

When striker Roland Sallai lost the ball in the penalty area, Koch reacted fastest to hammer his shot into the net on 36 minutes with Hertha goalkeeper Rune Dar powerless to save the shot.

Hertha had a string of second-half chances with ex-Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou going close before the VAR stepped in to deny Berlin the late penalty.

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