Hamburg - Stefan Kießling's 25th goal of the season for Bayer 04 Leverkusen condemned Hamburger SV to a 1-0 defeat in the Imtech Arena and ended the northerners' hopes of securing a place in next season's UEFA Europa League.
Despite being in charge for large parts of the game, HSV found it difficult to create clear-cut chances against the deep-lying visitors. Instead, it was Leverkusen that made their opportunities count, with Kießling grabbing the decisive goal, a strike that ensures he ends the season as the Bundesliga's top goalscorer.
After last week's impressive 4-1 victory at 1899 Hoffenheim, an unchanged Hamburg side started confidently, patiently passing their way towards Bernd Leno's goal. Leverkusen were sitting deep, but they almost went ahead with their very first attack, but Jens Hegeler, a two-goal hero last week, failed to get the better of Rene Adler despite being clean through.
Clear openings continued to prove hard to come by for the home side, although Rafael van der Vaart did force Leno into a smart save 16 minutes in with a sharp strike from a tight angle. Dennis Aogo also saw his headed attempt from Dennis Diekmeier's pin-point cross go just wide.
Leverkusen, looking to hit their opponents on the break, had another great opportunity in the 39th minute, but Kießling's volley was expertly palmed away by ex-Leverkusen stopper Adler.
Aogo fired wide of the target after collecting Heung-Min Son's pass, who himself cut a rather frustrated figure in his attempt to add to his tally of 12 goals for the season.
Thorsten Fink added new impetus to the Hamburg attack just past the hour mark by introducing the club's joint-top goalscorer Artjoms Rudnevs for Milan Badelj, and it seemed to work well for the Red Shorts. Van der Vaart marginally missed the target and Diekmeier shot just wide from the edge of the box, before Marcell Jansen saw his rocket deflected clear by a Bayer defender.
The visitors weren't without their chances to win the tie though. The home side were given a warning when Andre Schürrle lost control of the ball with only Adler to beat, before Kießling then saw a header sensationally parried to safety. Hamburg threw bodies forward in search of a goal that might have kept their European dream alive, but Kießling punished their risky approach when he coolly converted Sidney Sam's clever through-ball to secure Leverkusen three points.
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