Hamburg's struggles continue with loss to Bremen; Wolfsburg, Schalke draw
Hamburg stays bottom of the league for another week after Franco Di Santo's late penalty kick fired Werder Bremen to victory in the Nordderby.
The Argentine striker tucked home the winner on 83 minutes from the spot to start Bruno Labbadia's tenure at Hamburg with defeat to their Northern German rivals.
The Bundesliga's bottom club has now gone more than 550 minutes without a goal and has just five games to play in order to save its record as the only side to survive 52 years of the Bundesliga.
Viktor Skripnik, the Bremen coach, made five changes to his side with debutant Koen Casteels taking the place of Raphael Wolf between the sticks. After his goal at Stuttgart, Leipzig-bound Davie Selke was also included from the started, paired with top scorer Franco Di Santo.
An early free-kick from Zlatko Junuzovic that struck the wall was as good as it got for the home side who felt the extent of Hamburg's physical and direct approach. But despite having not scored in their last five matches, Hamburg carried some threat on the counterattack.
On 27 minutes, Pierre Michel Lasogga was a yard too slow to get on the end of an Ivica Olic cross and seconds later, Zoltan Stieber missed with a low shot by just a few inches.
Bremen was slightly aggrieved at Hamburg's play in the first 45 minutes with Rafael van der Vaart fortunate not to have been sent-off and the referee Wolfgang Stark denying Werder a penalty shout.
On 42 minutes, the hosts should have broken the resistance as the ball came from Di Santo on the right to Selke in the middle of the box, but the 20-year-old skewed his shot over the bar.
Creativity was stifled after the restart despite Stieber's tame strike two minutes into the second half which was gratefully clutched by Casteels.
But with seven minutes to play, Bremen secured the points when Valon Behrami tugged on Junuzovic's shirt and the Swiss midfielder was shown a straight red card - a week after clashing with one of his team-mates in the dressing room.
Former Chelsea and Wigan frontman Di Santo converted from 12 yards to net his 13th goal of the season.
Hamburg avoids any of the Bundesliga's big-boys in the coming weeks and faces several key rivals in their bid for survival. Firstly, there's Augsburg at home next week, before Mainz, Freiburg, then Stuttgart with the season drawing to a conclusion at home to Schalke.
Bremen, meanwhile, are four points outside of a place in Europe next season.
Wolfsburg and Schalke draw
Kevin de Bruyne's equalizer protects Wolfsburg's unbeaten home record this season following a 1-1 draw with Schalke.
De Bruyne netted his 10th of the season with 13 minutes to go, cancelling out a first half effort from young attacking-midfielder Leroy Sane. The point for the Wolves cuts the lead at the top back down to 12, whilst Schalke is in fifth on equal points with Augsburg in sixth.
Roberto Di Matteo handed a debut to 19-year-old Marvin Friedrich in central defense, whilst also starting with Sane and Max Meyer in attack alongside Klaas-Jan Huntelaar whose 18-hour long run without a goal continues.
Wolfsburg came crashing back to earth on Thursday as they lost 4-1 to Italian side Napoli in the UEFA Europa League - a tournament many expected the Germans to go and win.
With Bas Dost on the bench, Andre Schürrle lead the attack for the Wolves as he looked to add to the lone goal he has scored back in German football since his transfer in January.
After a quiet first half an hour, Luiz Gustavo passed up a fine chance as he headed wide Vieirinha's cross from the right-hand side.
Ten minutes later, ex-Chelsea man De Bruyne struck first-time from 18 meters but his shot was well parried away from goal by Ralf Fährmann.
Schalke's long-term number one, recently returning to replace rookie teenager Timon Wellenreuther, produced another fine stop to deny the Belgian as he looked to place the ball in the far corner of the net.
Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez cannoned his shot over the crossbar from 25 meters inside the first minute of the second half.
However, the Royal Blues would draw first blood through one of the gems of the club's highly-respected youth academy, Leroy Sane.
The 18-year-old won the ball in his own half, sprinted 75 meters with the ball, before taking the break of the ball and drilled low past Diego Benaglio. The Essen-born winger completed the perfect individual, counterattacking goal.
Wolfsburg's bluntness was compounded by the performance of Fährmann; the Schalke keeper makes saves, blocks and collecting the ball in the air without troubles.
He made a fine save from De Bruyne again on 66 minutes but the Belgian wouldn't be denied the next time of asking on 77 minutes, sending the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.
Wolfsburg, who has secured Champions League football next season, has a seven-point cushion over third-placed Leverkusen with five games remaining.