BERLIN (AP) — They sang as if they’d won.
Hertha Berlin missed a host of chances as it was held to a 1-1 draw by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday, but its fans celebrated what seemed like a new beginning for the beleaguered club.
Suat Serdar scored early for Hertha and might have sealed the win late if his shot wasn’t blocked in front of the line by teammate Stevan Jovetic.
Hertha’s point is the first earned under new coach Sandro Schwarz and it came after what was arguably the team’s most encouraging performance since a win over Borussia Dortmund last December.
Hertha fans’ loyalty has been tested by underachievement and scrapes with relegation in recent seasons, at a time when city rival Union Berlin has been achieving success after success since its promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019.
Union won their city derby for the fourth time in a row last weekend. Hertha was also knocked out of the German Cup in the first round the weekend before.
But the Hertha supporters put on a huge blue-and-white choreography for their first home game of the season.
”Berliners big and small, swear by the club,” two giant banners declared on opposite sides of the stadium, while a tifo showing three generations of Hertha fans looking at a club brochure rose in front of fans at the eastern end of the stadium.
Roared on by the home support, Hertha took an early lead when Dodi Lukebakio crossed for Serdar to score in the third minute.
New signing Wilfried Kanga should have scored in the 22nd but he somehow managed to shoot over an empty net.
Hertha was to rue the miss when Daichi Kamada equalized early in the second half. Randal Kolo Muani set up the Japanese midfielder for an easy finish after winning the ball from Hertha defender Filip Uremovic.
Also Saturday, Timo Werner scored on his second Leipzig debut after returning from Chelsea last week but couldn’t stop the team slumping to another draw, 2-2 at home to Cologne.
Bayer Leverkusen slumped to another defeat, 2-1 at home to Augsburg. Promoted Werder Bremen drew with Stuttgart 2-2, and Hoffenheim beat Bochum 3-2.
Schalke was playing Borussia Mönchengladbach later.
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Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press