Schalke escape Pokal test at Dynamo Berlin; fan disruptions mar Hertha win
Former East German champions Dynamo Berlin made it difficult for Schalke in the first round of the DFB-Pokal before the Bundesliga side finally prevailed 2-0 on Monday.
Dynamo, who won 10 successive East German titles between 1979-88 amid allegations of match-fixing and politically influenced favors, fared badly after German reunification and now play in the fourth tier.
In front of 14,000 spectators at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in Berlin, Dynamo did Schalke no favours and the top-flight side was made to sweat before two late goals from Yevhen Konoplyanka finally ensured progress.
Schalke started well and should have gone ahead through Guido Burgstaller before Dynamo got into the game. Matthias Steinborn had the game's best chance before the break when he forced a good save from goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann.
Dynamo goalkeeper Bernhard Hendl produced a brilliant save to deny Leon Goretzka and then another to stop Franco Di Santo before Konoplyanka finally made the breakthrough.
Goretzka sent the Ukrainian midfielder through to open the scoring in the 78th minute and Konoplyanka made sure of the win with his second on a counterattack in stoppage time.
It was Schalke's first win under new coach Domeniko Tedesco, who made headlines last week by dropping Benedikt Hoewedes as captain in favor of Faehrmann.
U.S. youth international Weston McKennie made his first career start for Schalke before being replaced by Goretzka in the 55th minute.
In a game overshadowed by pyrotechnics, bangers and small fires in the stands, Hertha Berlin beat third-division Hansa Rostock 2-0.
Play was suspended twice in the second half because of fireworks set off by both sets of fans. Hertha supporters lit pyrotechnics shortly after the interval and their Hansa counterparts caused the game to stop again with around 15 minutes remaining when they did the same. Fireworks were shot toward rival fans and some landed on the pitch.
Referee Robert Hartmann led his officials and the players off the pitch, as fires broke out among unoccupied seats with riot police lined up alongside.
The game restarted after a break of 16 minutes to the sound of more bangers being set off. There was a large police presence at the game, considered high risk because of a bitter rivalry between Hertha and Hansa fans.
Hertha left it to late to secure the win. Mitchell Weiser unleashed a brilliant strike that flew inside the far post following a corner with five minutes remaining and Vedad Ibisevic sealed the victory in injury time.
Elsewhere on Monday, Nurnberg defeated second-division rivals MSV Duisburg 2-1, and third-division Paderborn upset St. Pauli by the same scoreline, with both winners taking two-goal leads before conceding late on.