Hamburg - Hamburger SV missed out on the chance to move within a point of the European qualification spots after they were held to a 1-1 draw by VfL Wolfsburg in the Matchday 32 closer.
HSV took the lead at the end of a largely uneventful first half through Heiko Westermann’s header, but Wolfsburg hit back in the second period as Japanese international Makoto Hasebe drew them level. A host of chances followed, but a share of the spoils was the least that either side deserved.
The home side had gone into the game looking to bounce back from last week’s 4-1 thrashing at the hands of FC Schalke 04, a result which all but ended their chances of a top four finish. UEFA Europa League football next season, was a definite possibility, however, and the Red Shorts started brightly, with Rafael van der Vaart stinging Diego Benaglio’s palms with a well-struck volley from twelve yards.
Thereafter, however, the home side struggled to assert themselves in the face of Wolfsburg's excellent organisation. Jan Polak and Slobodan Medojevic functioned well as a unit in the centre of midfield for the Wolves, who also retained an attacking threat on the wings, with Vieirinha flashing an angled shot wide of the post.
Westermann climbs highest
Diego then dragged a half-volley off target, before former Hamburg hero Ivica Olic poked a tame effort straight at Jaroslav Drobny, playing in place of the suspended Rene Adler. It proved to be an ill-timed miss though, as Westermann guided a header into the corner from van der Vaart’s free kick shortly afterwards.
Hamburg emerged from the dressing room revitalised having broken the deadlock, and should have doubled their lead within minutes of the restart only for Dennis Diekmeier's selfishness to cost them dearly with teammates better placed. In contrast to the first half, Wolfsburg’s concentration had temporarily deserted them, and Benaglio had to be alert to parry clear speculative shots from South Korean pair Son and Zhi Gin Lam.
Wolves bite back
The wolves were under the cosh and needed to change things up, and when head coach Dieter Hecking did so, they were able to drag themselves back into the game, so much so that they should have gone in front. Ivan Perisic collected a pass on the left and delivered a wicked cross for Makoto Hasebe to head in the equaliser, but fellow substitute Bas Dost then wasted no less than three presentable chances to hand his side the lead.
Van der Vaart, Dost, Perisic and Son all had chances to clinch three points for their respective sides in a frantic finale, but a deciding goal failed to materialise, ending a frustrating afternoon for both sets of players. Hamburg move up a place to seventh but remain three points adrift of the last Europa League place, while Wolfsburg extended their unbeaten run to eight matches.
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