On Saturday at Hertha Berlin, Josh Sargent crashed home a superb goal to cap a 4-1 Werder Bremen victory that gives the USMNT striker’s club breathing room in the fight for top-flight survival.
There were still two out-of-form teams going to serve up a turgid affair, right? You could not have been more mistaken. In the first half alone, two penalties spiced up things: Davie Selke scored on Romano Schmid to give Hertha the lead after Maximilian Mittelstädt’s reckless challenge. Matheus Cunha won one and then saw Jiri Pavlenka save his spot-kick as the men of Bruno Labbadia, who had not scored in their previous three league matches, saw their troubling drought continue.
Worse was to come when, with a textbook header, Ömer Toprak ferociously bulleted a Leonardo Bittencourt corner high into the net. Fortunately, in the first half, Jhon Cordoba took a leaf out of the same textbook to give an inviting Peter Pekarik cross the emphatic reaction it deserved to offer hope to the hosts.
They had more even when, soon after the restart, Cunha’s strong drive brought a smart save from Pavlenka, but Bremen was the more clinical one. The superb chip of Maximilian Eggestein found Bittencourt racing into the area, and Bremen was given a two-goal cushion by his clever first touch, swivel, and shot.
Milot Rashica could have added another but his fierce shot was parried by Alexander Schwolow; Cunha should have pulled one back instantly but curved his attempt just short of the far post. As Bremen matched the score Hertha achieved in the season-opening encounter between the pair, Hertha looked like they might get back into it before Sargent span away from Matteo Guendouzi and lashed a rising shot into the net from 25 yards.