A terrific display from Marcelinho helped Hertha BSC Berlin secure a 4-0 win against APOEL Nicosia FC at the Olympiastadion tonight, and earn a place in the third round of the UEFA Cup with a 5-0 aggregate success.
The Brazilian midfield player scored one goal and set up the other three as Huub Stevens's side made light work of their Cypriot opponents. After just eight minutes, Marcelinho's corner picked out team captain Michael Preetz who scored from close range with a powerful header past Michael Morphis.
Within five minutes they were two ahead. Alex Alves crossed for Preetz, but although the first goalscorer missed the ball, Marcelinho had plenty of time to compose himself before volleying the ball from the corner of the penalty area past Morphis.
Off the bar
It was nearly 3-0 as Arne Friedrich headed a Marcelinho centre against the crossbar after 17 minutes, and the young German international was cursing his luck again four minutes later as he hit the bar again from a corner.
The second half saw the home side take on a more experimental lineup when Luizão came on for Preetz. It almost paid dividends after ten minutes as Stefan Beinlich drew an excellent save from Morphis, and the goalkeeper was in equally sparkling form as he denied a close-range header from Fábio Brito just a few minutes later.
Eventually, Beinlich was rewarded for his efforts as he extended Hertha's lead after 61 minutes. A corner was pulled back to the edge of the area by Marcelinho for Beinlich to drive the ball past Morphis on the half-volley.
Luizão then scored his first ever goal for Hertha after 67 minutes, after Marcelinho broke down the left and cut the ball back to his countryman to score from 13 metres. His joy was not to last long as he received a nasty gash on his calf and Hertha were forced to play the last 15 minutes with ten men.
'A very important victory'
"It was a very important victory and it happened in the way I hoped it would happen," said Hertha coach Stevens. "We scored early and started much better than in the first leg. We have proved tonight that we have the ability to score goals."
'A different world'
"We had three beautiful days in Berlin and there were lots of journalists wanting to know about us," added APOEL coach Eugen Gerards. "It was a different world from what we are used to. Hertha were the better team tonight and we wish them well. Our team is very young and have a lot to learn but we have plenty of time."