Japanese international Takashi Inui and Canadian striker Olivier Occean put the home side two up, but Heiko Westermann pulled a goal back for HSV. Stefan Aigner then restored Eintracht's two-goal advantage, before Heung Min-Son's effort ensured a tense finale.
Dream start for Eintracht
Much of the pre-match build-up had centred around the return of Rafael van der Vaart, starting his first game in the Bundesliga since leaving Hamburg in 2008. The Dutchman was only a peripheral figure in the opening exchanges of the game, however, as a confident Frankfurt side immediately took control.
Inui had already fired an early shot wide before opening the scoring with a goal of real quality, seizing on Jeffrey Bruma's error to surge towards forward and place a delightful strike past Rene Adler. It was a strike symptomatic of HSV's defensive problems, which were highlighted once again as Occean poked in for 2-0.
HSV wasteful, Jiracek sees red
Despite their defensive frailties, Thorsten Fink's men had no trouble creating chances. Van der Vaart forced Kevin Trapp into a smart save from an angled free-kick before Son was denied by the Frankfurt stopper at the near post. Yet HSV looked bereft of confidence and another golden chance was spurned by Artjoms Rudnevs from van der Vaart's inviting cross.
After Adler had kept his side in the game with a brave challeng to deny Alexander Meier, the away side finally converted one of the their many chances when Westermann tapped in following a corner. However, a red card shown to Petr Jiracek on the stroke of half time meant they had it all to do at the break.
Aigner provides daylight
Indeed, the Czech's dismissal was a cruel blow for the visitors, who had hauled themselves back into the game, and things were about to get worse shortly after half-time. Frankfurt's Aigner nipped in to extend the hosts' advantage to 3-1, but still HSV came back. Again van der Vaart was involved, robbing Carlos Zambrano of possession to release Son, who rounded Trapp before slotting into the empty net.
The game was on a knife-edge and spaces opened up with alarming regularity. Pirmin Schwegler flashed a rasping drive wide of the post, before Hamburg substitute Dennis Diekmeier squandered a great chance one-on-one with Trapp. The impressive Inui then bent a superb effort just past the post from a tight angle.
Eintracht hold on
As the closing stages approached, the game became even more stretched and it was Frankfurt who could have and perhaps should have struck next. Meier wrongly opted to shoot instead of pass to Occean when he was freed by Sebastian Rode, forcing the Eintracht faithful to sit through an agonising last few minutes.
Their defence held firm, however, and the final whistle soon sounded to give Armin Veh's men their third win of the season. Hamburg, by contrast, have now suffered three straight defeats in the league, although the performance of van der Vaart will have given them hope for the campaign ahead.
Line-ups and statistics