Hamburg continue steady form; Eintracht Frankfurt pound Bremen
Maybe, just maybe, the crisis is starting to ease at the Bundesliga’s oldest club.
Hamburg, after escaping a first-ever relegation a year ago and starting this season flirting with the bottom of the table, seems to have finally taken a secure step forward, their latest win a 2-1 triumph over slumping FSV Mainz Sunday afternoon.
The result lifted HSV out of the drop zone although nine teams are separated by just five points from tenth place to the bottom of the table.
New manager Josef Zinnbauer’s influence on the side continues to be apparent as HSV shook off the absence of veteran Heikko Westermann in defense and Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami to put together a solid, attack-oriented performance in the Imtech-Arena. It marked their third home win on the trot while Mainz’ winless run grew to six matces, only two of which have manged to yield them points since their last triumph came on Oct. 18.
Zinnbauer’s restructured front line had more movement and penetration with Latvian Artjoms Rudnevs slotting in beside Pierre-Michel Lasogga with Nicolai Mueller adding strong supporting runs. Rudnevs nearly got in as early as the 12th minute, Mueller pulled a decent shot wide of the far post in the 40th and Lasogga set up his side’s second goal.
HSV’s go-ahead 32nd-minute goal came because of the pressure that they kept on the Mainz defense, the Brazilian Cleber driving the ball off Loris Karius’ hand into the left corner after the visitors simply could not deal with a series of shots in the box.
HSV got the breathing room they needed nine minutes into the second half when Lasogga’s cross from the right was handled by Mainz captain Nikolce Noveski on the top right edge of the box. Rafael van der Vaart powered the spot kick past Karius.
An 80th minute counter nearly produced a third when van der Vaart struck Rudnevs’ cross with power from the top of the box, but the shot flew straight to Karius on the line. Mainz offered little to trouble Jaroslav Drobny at the HSV end, losing both the battle at the back and in midfield and only a closing burst of energy produced a reward.
Shinji Okazaki got his eighth goal of the season in the final minute with a close-range header, but it was not enough to get Mainz a share of points they would not have deserved on the balance of play.
At night, Alexander Meier proved the perfect opportunist, twice collecting rebounds off posts to score his Bundesliga-leading ninth and tenth goals that as Eintracht Frankfurt rolled over Werder Bremen, 5-2. A four-goal second half highlighted the third straight success for Eintracht as they moved to seventh in the table.
Werder Bremen remain second-last on goal-difference with SC Freiburg. Both are on 13 points, one more than bottom club VfB Stuttgart.
Meier opened the scoring in the 34th minute after Marc Stendera’s drive struck the far left post before rebounding across to the open striker. He struck again in the 68th minute with Eintracht’s third, this time on the spot to tuck in at the near post after Timothy Chandler sent in Stefan Aigner, only for Aigner’s shot to be parried onto the woodwork by keeper Raphael Wolf.
Werder Bremen, which couldn’t match Eintracht’s endeavor, had managed to get level just before the interval when Theodor Gebre Selassie headed home off a corner but Haris Seferovic beat Wolf to a cross in the 52nd minute, then bundled the ball over the line to put Eintracht back on course.
A flurry of goals in the final 15 minutes emphasized Eintracht’s night. Aigner scored when he had an open look after Santiago Garcia failed to cut off a Bastian Oczipka cross through the box with 14 minutes to play.
Luca Caldirola then turned in a Fin Bartels cross two minutes later to give Bremen a brief moment of glory only for Stendera to pound an 18-yarder into the top right corner a minute after Caldirola’s tally to complete the account.