Hamburg SV end the first half of the Bundesliga season on a winning note, defeating Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 Friday evening at Borussia Park. The win casts some light over a dark Hamburg season, assuring that the club will return from winter break in the top half of the table. No light was shed on Gladbach’s gloom, as the Foals fell for the fifth straight time and are buried in the Bundesliga basement with only 10 points on the season.
Borussia Monchengladbach never look as hapless as their record would indicate, and indeed were the brighter attacking team of the two sides in the scoreless first half. With many familiar names missing from both teams’ lineups, Michael Frontsek’s Foals were unlucky to notch a first half goal. Gladbach midfielder Michael Bradley had two decent opportunities in the first half, but the American international could convert neither. Teammate Juan Arango had a long-distance shot just miss as Gladbach forced Hamburg veteran keeper Frank Rost into four saves, while Hamburg demanded only two saves from Gladbach keeper Christofer Heimeroth.
Hamburg, however, were the first team on the scoreboard. Immediately after intermission Hamburg’s Eljero Elia was sprung down the left, and right-footed a low shot past Heimeroth to give Armin Veh’s side the lead. But Gladbach equalized just two minutes later, as Igor De Camargo headed a close-range shot into the net from a cross by Bradley. So after 45 minutes of scoreless play, both teams had netted three minutes after halftime. At that point, it looked like anyone’s game.
Armin Veh brought in veteran striker Ruud van Nistelrooy at the hour mark, and his presence changed the complexion of the game. Subbed in to replace Choupo-Moting, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star’s presence seemed to bring cohesion to Hamburg’s attack, as passing in the attacking third became more purposeful and threatening. At the 72 minute mark, Hamburg got the goal they needed when Piotr Trochowski’s free kick eluded Heimeroth in traffic and went into the net. Hamburg were able to make the goal stand, as their increased possession gave Gladbach less time with the ball and Rost stood tall and snuffed out the few opportunities Gladbach had left, after earlier making a fine save on a Thorben Marx shot.
I still believe that Gladbach bad record is a result of some bad luck as well as poor play, but the Borussia Park fans are running low on patience and booed the result. Frontzeck has one more chance for redemption before the New Year, as the Foals take on 1899 Hoffenheim in the DFB Pokal Cup December 21 before heading into winter break. Hopefully he can use the break to fix the team’s defending, which is truly representative of a team looking to be relegated. For Hamburg, Armin Veh now has a respite from the club’s off the field controversies and a win to build upon over the break.
Notes: Borussia Monchengladbach now have completed the first half of the season without a home victory. Hamburg’s victory brings them level for the season with seven wins, seven losses and three draws. Frank Rost was instrumental in Hamburg gaining the three points.
Gladbach Starting Lineup: Heimeroth, Daems, Callsen-Bracker, Wissing, Schachten, Neustadter, Bradley, Marx, De Camargo, Arango, Reus Subs Used: Idrissou 78′ (for Bradley), Hermann 81′ (for Marx)
Hamburg Lineup: Rost, Westermann, Besic, Aago, Rincon, Trochowski, Jarolim, Elia, Choupo-Moting, Guererro, Pitroipa Subs Used: van Nistelrooy 61′ (for Choupo-Moting), Ben-Hatira 88; (for Pitroipa), Tesche 90′ (for Elia)