BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin’s hopes of reaching the German Cup final in its own stadium were ended in the first round Sunday with a 6-5 loss on penalties at second-division club Eintracht Braunschweig.
Hertha coach Sandro Schwarz’s first game in charge will do little to give fans optimism for the season ahead after the team was almost relegated last season. Hertha needed a playoff win over Hamburger SV to secure Bundesliga survival in May. Including friendlies, the team has now lost its last four games straight under Schwarz, who took over in July after finishing last season with Dynamo Moscow.
Hertha was leading 2-0 in Braunschweig when it conceded two goals to take the game to extra time. It was leading 4-3 in extra time when it conceded late again for penalties. Captain Marvin Plattenhardt and Marc Oliver Kempf both missed their spot kicks.
Hertha’s next game is its Bundesliga opener at city rival Union Berlin on Saturday.
Beaten finalist Freiburg needed extra time to get past second-division club Kaiserslautern 2-1, while Borussia Mönchengladbach enjoyed a 9-1 rout of fifth-tier Oberachern.
Schalke, Hoffenheim, Augsburg and Mainz also progressed Sunday.