Hertha Berlin survived a late scare in the German Cup, but prevailed in a cold, snowy Heidenheim to reach their first semifinal in over 30 years. An injury to Salomon Kalou might spoil the after party.
Heidenheim 2-3 Hertha Berlin
(Feicke 10', Schnatterer 82' pen.- Ibisevic 14', 21', Haraguchi 58')
Ten minutes in and Pal Dardai must have felt like Hertha Berlin's cup final curse was going to haunt him forever. A rare misjudgment from Rune Jarstein allowed Arne Feicke to poke over the line from close range and suddenly, the cold, snowy stadium in Heidenheim was starting to feel all too real for the visitors from the capital.
The last time the club reached a German Cup semifinal was back in 1993, but it was Hertha's reserve team who caught the nation's hearts before falling in the final. Fortunately for Dardai and his team, the quest for their own final at home was put back on track by a man who has gone some way to resurrecting his career since his surprise move to the capital. Vedad Ibisevic, who played in Stuttgart's 2013 German Cup final defeat to Bayern Munich, delivered a six-minute double to turn the game around. Mitchell Weiser delivered a pair of assists, and Ibisevic converted both, gobbling up at the back post for the first before converting the second with a smart, first-time finish. With a bit more composure, the Bosnian could have had a first-half hat-trick.
Stunned by the Bundesliga side's response, Heidenheim were subdued. Hertha captain Sebastian Langkamp nearly gifted them an equalizer at the start of the second half, but Genki Haraguchi's fine solo goal ended the contest. Hertha's fairytale had a picture-perfect ending when the snow grew more intense. A clumsy tackle from Weiser inside the final ten minutes gave the home side a glimmer hope, and even though Heidenheim captain Marc Schnatterer scored brilliantly from the spot, the home side had nothing left. In truth, it would have been flattering for the second-division hosts to take the game to extra, so dominant were Hertha.
More so than any of the heroics he's achieved in the Bundesliga this year, Dardai has made reaching the German Cup final a holy grail for both him and his team. With one game to go, a lot will depend on the draw. Even though they drew 3-3 with Werder Bremen last time, they remain the favored choice. If they pass that test, then they will have their dream final. If Bayern Munich's 2012 Champions League final was labeled the "finale dahoam", then Berlin's would very much one "zu Hause". The hope is that it ends slightly differently.