RB Leipzig 2-2 Hertha Berlin: Piatek penalty denies 10-man hosts victory

Oleh Ben Spratt 28 Mei 2020 7
RB Leipzig 2-2 Hertha Berlin: Piatek penalty denies 10-man hosts victory

RB Leipzig missed the chance to move second in the Bundesliga and take a big step towards Champions League qualification as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Hertha Berlin.

Top-four rivals Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen all dropped points on Tuesday, but 10-man Leipzig could not capitalise 24 hours later.

Julian Nagelsmann's side trailed to Marko Grujic's early strike, although goals from Lukas Klostermann and Patrik Schick – the latter aided by an awful Rune Jarstein error – looked to have clinched a hard-fought victory.

However, Leipzig had seen Marcel Halstenberg sent off prior to Schick's strike, and Hertha substitute Krzysztof Piatek converted a late penalty to earn a share of the spoils.

The visitors remain unbeaten under new coach Bruno Labbadia, with their relegation fears behind them, but third-placed Leipzig have work to do to secure a return to the Champions League, where they have reached the quarter-finals this term.

Just four points separate Dortmund in second and Leverkusen in fifth after a tough weekend for the European chasers, with leaders Bayern Munich comfortably seven points clear at the top.

Hertha were good value for their point and a lively start produced the opener after just nine minutes as Grujic met Marvin Plattenhardt's left-wing corner full on the volley eight yards from goal, beating the helpless Peter Gulacsi.

A set-piece at the other end saw Leipzig level 15 minutes later, though, with Klostermann darting towards Christopher Nkunku's near-post delivery and nodding across Jarstein into the bottom-left corner.

Captain Vedad Ibisevic could have restored Hertha's lead but blazed over the crossbar when a move down the right cut Leipzig open late in the first half.

Goalmouth action was scarce following the restart, and Leipzig's hopes of victory looked to have been dealt a sizeable blow as Halstenberg earned a second booking for a foul on former team-mate Matheus Cunha.

But Jarstein failed to gather Schick's powerful drive and the ball squirmed over the line, seemingly taking the match away from Hertha.

Ademola Lookman felled Cunha inside the area, however, and Piatek kept his cool from 12 yards to pick out the bottom-left corner and set up a frantic finish in which Labbadia's side could not force a winner.

What does it mean? Opportunity missed

With 10 minutes remaining, this was shaping up to be a great matchweek for Leipzig. With the title realistically gone barring a shock Bayern collapse, their focus is surely now on Champions League qualification and the resumption of this season's European competition. But a precious victory slipped away from Nagelsmann's outfit after Lookman's clumsy foul.

Piatek picks his spot

Former Milan man Piatek has not yet justified his €27million January transfer fee, scoring once in the Bundesliga prior to this encounter. The Poland international is also yet to start under Labbadia, but he was the man Hertha turned to when gifted a late chance. Piatek's penalty was clinical.

Rune rues error

Hertha could well have been looking at a third straight victory rather than rescuing a draw when Halstenberg saw red, but Jarstein let Leipzig off the hook just five minutes later. The goalkeeper looked to have successfully fielded Schick's drive, only to see the ball slip agonisingly from his grasp.

What's next?

Leipzig do not play again until Monday, when they visit Cologne. Hertha host Augsburg on Saturday.

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