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Sports

Hertha Berlin beat Cologne as Ibisevic goal again proves vital to all three points

Pal Dardai's side managed to turn around a poor run of form with another vital Vedad Ibisevic goal. The Berlin side have now opened up a four-point lead over Leverkusen in fourth.

Cologne 0-1 Hertha Berlin

(Vedad Ibisevic 43')

Hertha Berlin picked up an important three points in their quest to stay in the Bundesliga top four on Friday night with a 1-0 win away to Cologne.

In a match that certainly seemed to be a must-win for Pal Dardai's side, following a start to 2016 that had seen Hertha go five games without a win, the capital side were once again able to rely upon talented forward Vedad Ibisevic to keep them in contention for a top four finish.

The 31-year-old forward has been a useful player for Hertha this season with nine goals and five assists to his name, but has crucially stepped up and made sure those goals and assists mattered when they've come about.

Going into Friday night's game, Hertha had won every Bundesliga and German Cup game in which the Bosnian international had either scored or assisted a goal for his side. Ibisevic may not be the most consistent forward in the German top division, but when he's on form he certainly knows how to galvanize his side and push them through to the 90th minute.

Indeed, it's no coincidence that in Hertha's past five games - a run in which they've picked up just four points - Ibisevic had very much been out of form. Others may have scored in the blue and white colors of the Berlin club and the defense may have kept two clean sheets, but this team didn't quite look their best without their key forward on song.

It'll come as little surprise to Hertha fans that it was the attacking midfielder and his partner in crime - Salomon Kalou - who combined for the opening goal when a counterattack allowed the Ivorian international to pick Ibisevic out with time and space to curl a shot past Timo Horn's back post.

The two players have 18 Bundesliga goals between them this season - a tally that amounts to around 60 percent of Hertha's tally in the league - and is clearly the centre piece to Dardai's tactical plans to keep Hertha in their unexpected spot in the league table.

Rather than hold out for a draw or try and steal a goal on the break, Hertha travelled to the RheinEnergie Stadium with the intention of using attack as the best form of defense. Whether through the two prolific forwards or either creative wingers, Mitchell Weiser or Genki Haraguchi, Hertha seemed to be in a constant state of attack that never allowed the home side to settle in front of their own fans.

Although that may have resulted in just the solitary goal it proved enough against a Cologne side that just never seemed to click in to gear - especially when they crossed the half-way line or indeed entered the final third.

Aside from a late chance from towering striker Anthony Modeste, who managed to reach an out-stretched toe on to a through ball that looked as though it had been hit in frustration rather than anything else from Marcel Risse, the home side will feel as though they never did enough to truly test Rune Jarstein in the Hertha goal.

The Berlin side now sit comfortable in third place with a four-point lead over Bayer Leverkusen in fourth, knowing no matter what happens in the remaining Bundesliga fixtures this weekend, their spot in the Champions League qualification positions is assured.

Eintracht Frankfurt awaits this season's surprise package next week but for now any sense of demise in this team has once again been countered by a vital Ibisevic goal.