Rafael van der Vaart gave the combined Düsseldorf defence an almighty headache on Matchday 30...
Rafael van der Vaart gave the combined Düsseldorf defence an almighty headache on Matchday 30...

Van der Vaart: "It's all still to play for"

Hamburg - Just two points off fourth place in the wake of their 2-1 home victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 30, Hamburger SV are back on track for a return to the European arena next season.

Man of the hour was skipper Rafael van der Vaart, who scored both goals against the visitors as HSV racked up their second straight win, having previously lost three in a row in the Bundesliga - a 9-2 thrashing at FC Bayern Munich included.

Speaking to the assembled media after the final whistle, the Dutch playmaker put his own role in the Red Shorts' revival into perspective and discussed the chances of the Imtech Arena playing host to international football once again in the none-too-distant future.

Question: Rafael van der Vaart, your first headed goal in the Bundesliga - and your first brace since 2007 on top of that. You must be a very happy man?

Rafael van der Vaart: That was a very important win for us today and obviously I'm delighted to have scored twice. The first goal was really down to a mistake by the keeper, and the second was a bit of a scramble, really. I had three players on me and was just going to try and win a corner. Then I tried something else instead and the ball landed in the back of the net. It felt great.

Question: The game was very close in the end, though. What happened?

Van der Vaart: For the first hour, we played very well. Then some mistakes and slack passing crept into our game again, the kind of thing we really have to stamp out. That gave our opponents a lift and put the contest in the balance again.

Question: A win at Mainz, now three more points against Düsseldorf. Is it fair to say that since you were handed the captain's armband, things have been looking up again for Hamburg?

Van der Vaart: I don't know, it's maybe just down to us getting the rub of the green. I feel in really good shape, as a team we've regained our self-confidence. Given that, it's easier for me to lead the side, and to have a decisive influence on the outcome.

Question: Which the fans duly acknowledged...

Van der Vaart: The team just gave off a good vibe today, and the fans were aware of it. When the mindset's right, the results start going your way again as well. We're back in the groove now.

Question: Next weekend, HSV are away to a direct rival in Schalke 04. A high-pressure game for the team...

Van der Vaart: The table's getting tighter all the time. I like it when there's still that kind of pressure at the end of the season and you're still in with a chance of achieving something. It's looking really good for us. If we win at Schalke, we'll leapfrog them in the standings. That's how quickly things can change in football.

Question: So Hamburg are still on course for a place in Europe?

Van der Vaart: It's all still to play for. First up now, we have to focus on Schalke. And we can't afford to make the kind of mistakes there that we just did against Düsseldorf.

Reporting from Hamburg: Michael Reis