Hertha responded well but both Dodi Lukebakio and Matheus Cunha squandered promising opportunities.
The fact that the Royal Blues have worn out nine managers in 11 years, at least to some extent, explains David Wagner's hopeless situation. The 48-year-old former Huddersfield manager is the club's 10th incumbent.
Rafael Veiga had put the visitors ahead by latching on to a Matias Vina cross with a low finish in the 71st minute.
The second, decisive match will take place on September 30 in Salzburg, with the winner on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League's group stage. Enditem
Although Shenzhen FC's Gao Lin managed to pull one back in the 63rd minute by seizing the spot-kick, the Shandong based club still successfully took three points, ending their four-round winless run and allowing them to temporarily upgrade to second place.
Pakhtakor's qualification to the Round of 16 from Group B was confirmed after Al Hilal failed to name the required 13 players for their match against Shabab Al Ahli and thus were deemed to have withdrawn from the competition. Enditem
Chengdu was the only side who had pocketed three wins consecutively in the first three rounds of the league.
In addition to the infected players, several Flamengo officials and members of the coaching staff - including head coach Domenec Torrent - have tested positive for the virus in the past week.
With the win, Esteghlal edged Al Shorta on goal difference to finish second behind Al Ahli, who were confirmed group winners before the match. Enditem
If head coach Domenec Torrent didn't have enough obstacles to overcome, an eruption of ash from the Sangay volcano left his team unable to train on Sunday.
Even though Hertha was on the front foot, it was the visitor who tripled the lead out of the blue in the 70th minute when Rode had time and space to curl the ball from the edge of the box into the top left corner.