Hamburg - It was off the pitch and straight onto the plane for Hamburger SV on Friday night with little time for Thorsten Fink’s troops to revel in their 2-0 victory over 1899 Hoffenheim.
Despite the positive outcome, Hamburg’s players were not in a particularly talkative mood in the wake of the Matchday 16 opener. There was however a very practical reason for their silence and haste.
No sooner had the struggling visitors been dispatched and the victors showered than they were up in the air, bound for Brazil. Rather than a quiet night of well-earned relaxation, the only sleep the Hamburg players were getting on Friday was at an altitude of 35,000 feet - quite literally on cloud nine after a win which took lifted them up to seventh.
“It was a very important victory for us because we're back in touch with the teams above us,” said two-goal match-winner . “I’m delighted that we could turn in the third home win in a row for our fans. For me personally, it’s obviously fantastic to have scored both goals. It was a great feeling to get a standing ovation when I was substituted.”
Rudnevs put the finishing touches to the victory, but it was another all-round team effort which helped Hamburg maintain their recent revival. On Matchday 3, a 3-2 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt left the Red Shorts in the bottom three. Friday’s win took them to their highest league position of the season - and in range of the places commensurate with their ambition.
“We've shown we can play with consistency, even when important players like and Maxi Beister are missing,” said Fink. “It was a convincing performance, where we had far more possession. I’d like to pay the team a compliment after this difficult year. They’ve really done a great job and gone from being relegation candidates to a team who can hold a place in mid-table.”
Back in action
The journey to Brazil was at the invitation of Gremio, to mark the official inauguration of their new stadium in Porto Alegre, which will be one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup. The two sides met in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup - predecessor to the World Club Cup - and as in that first encounter in Tokyo, HSV were edged 2-1 this time as well. No great surprise perhaps, given their Bundesliga exertions and the red-eye transatlantic flight that constituted their pre-match preparations.
On their return on Tuesday, the players will get straight down to work preparing for their final Bundesliga challenge of 2012, away to Bayer Leverkusen. “We have enough time,” defender told regional broadcaster NDR. “We’re back Tuesday morning and don’t play until Saturday, so there can be no excuses.”
That said, Fink has one at the ready. “We're the rank outsiders,” the head coach reckons, “but we want a result at Leverkusen.” Victory would reduce the gap between the two sides to just three points, and could even be enough for Hamburg to end the year in the top four if other results went their way. They then have several weeks to shake off the jetlag and dream of getting back up in the air, perhaps to slightly closer destinations within Europe next season.