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Hertha fans' first game back is loss to Frankfurt

BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia had to wait 5 1/2 months for his first game with supporters cheering on his side. They didn’t help. Hertha lost at home to Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 in the Bundesliga on Friday, the first time fans were allowed to attend a soccer game in Berlin’s Olympiastadion since coronavirus restrictions began in March.

Labbadia was appointed coach in April, when the league was still suspended. He had to wait till May 16 for his debut. His first nine league games were all played without spectators last season, before a limited number of Werder Bremen fans were allowed see visiting Hertha’s 4-1 win in the new season’s first round.

Just 4,000 Hertha fans were allowed for Frankfurt’s visit, and they arrived full of optimism after another summer of rebuilding at the club. But the visitors dominated from the start and took a deserved lead through André Silva’s penalty in the 30th minute, after the Portuguese forward was fouled by Hertha captain Dedryck Boyata.

Bas Dost made it 2-0 with a header to Daichi Kamada’s free kick six minutes later, and Sebastian Rode grabbed Frankfurt’s third with a fine strike in off the far post in the 70th. Martin Hinteregger’s own goal in the 76th was too little, too late, for Hertha.

Hertha’s players wore jerseys with “for Pauline” across them in an appeal to find stem cell donors for an eight-month-old girl with leukemia. “Pauline’s story shows how important it is that as many people as possible register so that lives can be saved,” Hertha board member Paul Keuter said.

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

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