Hertha Berlin knocked out as German season begins with cup

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s soccer season started on Friday with an upset in the first round of the German Cup as Hertha Berlin was knocked out by second-division Eintracht Braunschweig 5-4.

Hertha’s defense was rusty in Braunschweig, where 500 fans sang about reaching the final — in Berlin.

Only 500 were allowed due to strict measures against the coronavirus, which pushed back the starting date for a competition that normally begins in August.

Martin Kobylanski scored a hat trick for Eintracht, which took a two-goal lead by the 17th minute thanks to Maximilian Mittelstädt’s own goal.

Matheus Cunha drew Hertha level in the 29th after Dodi Lukebakio pulled one back, but Kobylanski restored the home side’s lead before the break.

Peter Pekarik made it 3-3 in the 67th, but Kobylanski replied almost straight away, and Suleiman Abdullahi made it 5-3.

Lukebakio’s second goal in the 83rd set up a frenetic finale that failed to yield an equalizer for the visitors.

Mainz labored before overcoming fourth-tier side Havelse 5-1. Noah Plume’s early goal was enough for Havelse to lead at the break, but a second-half hat trick from Jean-Philippe Mateta ultimately helped the home side to a convincing win.

Havelse is among a number of smaller clubs that gave away their right to a home game due to conditions set by German soccer authorities. Fifth-division Rielasingen-Arlen said it was forced to give up home advantage despite attempts to show it could host safely at its own stadium or other local grounds.

Up to 1,000 supporters were allowed to attend the game in Mainz.

Defending champion Bayern Munich’s game was put back to October to give the side more time to recover after winning the Champions League on Aug. 23.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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