Rafael van der Vaart (l.) made his long-awaited return from injury as Hamburg were held in Nuremberg
Rafael van der Vaart (l.) made his long-awaited return from injury as Hamburg were held in Nuremberg

Hamburg held in Nuremberg

Nuremberg - The returning Rafael van der Vaart was unable to guide Hamburger SV to victory as the Red Shorts were forced to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw away to 1. FC Nuremberg.

Hosts attack

Following a lengthy period of sparring in the opening period, the match came to life after the break as Artjoms Rudnevs put Hamburg in front, only for Tomas Pekahrt to restore parity minutes later and grab an important point for the hosts in their bid for Bundesliga survival.

New Nuremberg coach Michael Wiesinger was determined to stamp his own mark on the team in his first game in charge and took the surprising step of leaving Japanese playmaker on the bench. It did not seem to matter initially as the hosts were by far the better of the two early on, with Nuremberg's rapid one-touch interplay indicative of Wiesinger's preferred style and forcing the guests onto the back foot.

Hamburg's cause was not helped when hobbled off the pitch with injury, but as the game progressed the visitors began to put up greater resistance. Neither goalkeeper was tested for long periods, though, with possession concentrated in the middle third.

Slow burner

Both teams were seemingly frustrated at their lack of headway and a spate of tit-for-tat fouls ensued, disrupting the previously entertaining and fast-moving nature of the encounter. Perhaps inevitably, the first clear chance of the half came from a set-piece, but Hanno Balitsch could not keep his header from Robert Mak's free-kick down. Shortly before the break, Mak himself had an even better opportunity to score, only to drag his close-range shot wide of the post.

Almost immediately after the restart was put through by attacking partner , but the Dutchman, who had not played in the Bundesliga since injuring his thigh on Matchday 13, was too slow to react and Nuremberg were able to clear. Nevertheless, it sparked Hamburg's best period of the game and they pressed their opponents high up the pitch, pinning them into their own half.

Quick-fire goals

Soon the visitors, inspired by the lively Son, began to find holes in the Nuremberg defence and unmarked striker Rudnevs should have done better than to head over from Per Ciljan Skjelbred's cross. Marcel Jansen followed that up with a powerful drive from the edge of the box that brushed the outside of the net, before Javier Pinola hit his own post when trying to clear a deep cross.

Hamburg were now the only side attacking, with the cowed hosts looking every bit like a team at the lower end of the table. The guests' pressure eventually took its toll when Rudnevs made amends for his earlier miss by outmuscling Pinola to reach Dennis Aogo's left-wing cross and head home. To their credit, however, Nuremberg stirred and pushed forward with renewed urgency. Czech international Pekahrt pulled der Club level just minutes later after good work on the left by Timo Gebhart. Son spurned a pair of late half-chances, meaning Hamburg recorded a Bundesliga-record 250th draw on the road.

Line-ups and statistics

Jonathan Stockitt