Hertha Berlin and Hanover have shared the points in Friday's Bundesliga fixture. A spectacular late free-kick from Hertha substitute Ronny tied the score late, robbing Hanover of a fifth consecutive home win.
Fourth and fifth in the Bundesliga league table locked horns in the first game of the weekend. Visitors Hertha Berlin started strongly, even against a Hanover side with a perfect home record for the season.
Midway through the first half, the hosts took the lead from a messy corner routine. After multiple Hertha attempts to clear the ball, Hajime Hosogai offered the weakest effort of all. The ball fell straight to Hanover's Christian Schulz - starting his first match of this season - who finished with aplomb.
Lifted by the home lead, Hanover began to take control of the game, often attacking through Ivorian striker Didier Ya Konan. At half-time, however, Hanover had to send Ya Konan off to hospital for an examination after the striker turned his left ankle badly while falling in the closing seconds of the first period.
Hertha hang in there
The often combative match drew a flurry of yellow cards but comparatively few clear scoring chances. But as Hertha pushed forward in the second period, the capital club started finding good looks at goal.
Two chances in particular might have provided the equalizer. Änis Ben-Hatira hit the post in a one-on-one with Ron-Robert Zieler, and then striker Adrian Ramos stroked a close-range shot wide of the post late in the second half.
Hertha coach Jos Luhukay rolled the dice with 10 minutes to play, bringing on two attackers, including Brazilian set-piece specialist Ronny.
Within seconds, referee Günther Perl whistled for yet another free-kick, well within shooting range for the left-footer. Ronny rifled the dead ball into Ron-Robert Zieler's top corner with real ferocity. The radar trap put the ball's flight-speed at 119 kilometers per hour (74mph).
The 81st-minute equalizer was the last goal of the game, although both sides flirted with a late winner. Nico Schulz of Hertha fired a powerful distance shot over the bar just a few seconds before Hanover's Artur Sobiech forced Thomas Kraft into a sharp save to rescue an away point for Hertha.