Andreas Neuendorf's goal midway through the second half gave Hertha BSC Berlin a winning start to their UEFA Cup Group C campaign against Halmstads BK in Sweden.
The home side earned a memorable win at Sporting Clube de Portugal in the first round to book their place in the group stage, but struggled to rediscover their rhythm against a dominant Hertha side. The visitors created a host of opportunities but found goalkeeper Conny Johansson in superb form, before finally making the breakthrough on 67 minutes when Yıldıray Baştürk teed up Neuendorf to score from five metres. The goal spurred Halmstad to show more attacking intent but they never threatened as the Bundesliga team eased to victory.
It provided a welcome win for Falko Götz's side, for whom Brazilian midfielder Gilberto joined Kevin-Prince Boateng and Christian Müller on the sidelines in the build-up to the game. If that was an ill-timed blow, Hertha did not show it as they dominated from the kick-off. Pál Dárdai was the first to threaten with a powerful drive that whizzed past the left post, and Johansson soon found himself under further pressure, tipping over Oliver Schröder's effort.
It provided a sign of things to come for the home team as Hertha began to pepper their goal with shots. Marcelinho fired Baştürk's corner narrowly wide and then midway through the half Neuendorf provided a pinpoint cross for Nando Rafael which the striker headed wide. Schröder did manage to hit the target just before half-time but with Johansson beaten, Tommy Jonsson made a goalline clearance.
The interval failed to quell Hertha's hunger and the onslaught continued after the break with Hungarian midfield player Dárdai twice denied by Johansson with shots from the edge of the area. The Halmstad goalkeeper's resistance was finally ended in emphatic style by Neuendorf after good work from Baştürk, and the Turkish midfielder almost doubled the advantage moments later but Johansson again saved well.
Halmstad began to push further forward as the match neared its conclusion, but it was Hertha who came closest to scoring again as Marcelinho struck a left-footed drive against the crossbar with four minutes remaining. The German side are not in action on Matchday 2 on 3 November, when Halmstad travel to RC Lens.