Imtech Arena, Hamburg
Hamburger SV allowed themselves to be dragged down further into the mire of the Bundesliga’s relegation race Friday night. After failing to exploit numerous early opportunities, a late red card gave visitors Hertha Berlin the chance to take advantage – and that’s exactly what the club from the capital did. Pál Dárdai’s side heads home after gaining a crucial three points, leaving Hamburg treading water, just one point above the relegation zone.
The Imtech Arena nearly exploded five minutes into the match when Hamburg striker Ivica Olić tried a chip from 25 yards out but Hertha BSC goalie Thomas Kraft was just able to get a hand on it. Cléber Reis narrowly missed a header from the resulting corner, and it set the tone for the rest of the night.
Twelve minutes in, it looked like Reis had opened the scoring for the hosts, but his header that hit the back of the net was disallowed for a foul that he committed against Fabian Lustenberger.
Still in the first half, another set piece chance was squandered by Die Roten Hosen. Olić forced Sebastian Langkamp to foul him in a dangerous area. Rafael van der Vaart whipped in yet another dangerous ball, this time towards Olić, but the header from the Croatian striker went wide.
In the 69th minute, John Brooks attempted to give Hamburg all three points when he slipped at the edge of the area, turning it over to Olić and putting his goalkeeper in a perilous one-on-one situation. Olić however, elected to pass to Pierre-Michel Lasogga, but the 23-year-old forward was indecisive in possession and Lustenberger made a key block to keep it goalless.
Hamburg manager Josef Zinnbauer tried to change the game with 15 minutes remaining, throwing on Lewis Holtby for van der Vaart. The Dutchman had played one of his better matches in recent memory, but it was clear his race was run.
The major moment came in the 81st minute when Cleber Réis was sent off for the hosts. Having being booked just twelve minutes prior, he was already going to miss the next game for card accumulation, but his ban will be one game more. Réis and Lustenberger went up for a header, and it looked like the Brazilian may have slapped the Swiss midfielder right in front of referee
Just three minutes later, Hertha capitalized on the man advantage. Langkamp was picked out in the box by Marvin Plattenhardt’s free kick, heading past René Adler, and it was all the visitors needed to steal a crucial three points on the road.
Hamburg (4-2-3-1): René Adler; Dennis Diekmeier (Maximilian Beister 87’), Johan Djourou, Cléber Reis, Heiko Westermann; Valon Behrami, Rafael van der Vaart (Lewis Holtby 75’); Nicolai Müller, Zoltan Steiber, Ivo Illicević (Pierre-Michele Lasogga 64’); Ivica Olić.
Hertha: Thomas Kraft; Peter Pekarik, Sebastian Langkamp, John Anthony Brooks, Marvin Plattenhardt; Fabian Lustenberger, Per Ciljan Skjelbred; Roy Beerens, Valentin Stocker (Jens Hegeler 77’), Änis Ben-Hatira (Genki Haraguchi 46’); Salomon Kalou (Nico Schulz 87’).
Goals: Langkamp (84’).