Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 and Hamburger SV shared the honours in a six-goal thriller at the Veltins Arena to bring an enthralling Matchday 1 of the new Bundesliga season to an appropriately high-pulse finale on Sunday.
Schalke squander perfect start
Goals at the very start and finish of the first half from Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with a Rafael van der Vaart penalty and Maximilian Beister header sandwiched between, sent the sides in level at the break before a goal from debutant centre back Lasse Sobiech edged Torsten Fink's troops back in front. Adam Szalai, likewise making his first Bundesliga appearance for the Royal Blues, salvaged them a point with his 72nd-minute finish after coming off the bench.
Only three of the previous 91 Bundesliga meetings of these two sides had finished goalless and inside of two minutes it was established that this was not going to be number four as Julian Draxler played a pinpoint pass through to Huntelaar, whose low drilled finish past HSV keeper Rene Adler from just outside the box was equally precise - the fifth game in a row in which he had netted against the Red Shorts.
The next incident of note in the twelfth minute led directly to Hamburg's equaliser, Joel Matip handling inside the box following a cross from the left by Marcell Jansen and the referee pointing summarily to the spot. Van der Vaart dispatched the penalty, sent home custodian Timo Hildebrand the wrong way, and it was back to square one with less than quarter of an hour played.
Hamburg in command
There was more bad news for Schalke soon when Draxler limped off not long after injuring his left foot in a clash with Hamburg's Tolgay Arslan, 17-year-old Leon Goretzka replacing the playmaker and making his Bundesliga debut in the process. Barely was the youngster on the pitch, however, than he and his team-mates were chasing a game in turnaround as the visitors went in front.
Heiko Westermann opened up play with a diagonal ball to Dennis Diekmeier and the right back's cross was met by Maximilian Beister with a header that bounced down from the underside of the bar onto the goalline and from there off Hildebrand's arm into the net. With the guests seemingly in the ascendancy, Schalke hauled themselves level when Huntelaar nodded home Christian Fuchs' cross following a corner deep into added time.
Sobiech and Szalai make their mark
If HSV perhaps had reason to feel aggrieved about not being in front at the midway mark, they didn't waste time making up for it after the restart. Four minutes in, with Christian Clemens already having fired just wide at the other end, the visitors went in front once again from a corner of their own, Sobiech rising highest to head home van der Vaart's delivery.
The hosts had to respond and as the final half-hour broke, coach Jens Keller brought on Adam Szalai for holding midfielder Roman Neustädter, the summer signing promptly firing into the side of the net with an early touch. On the back of that, he was foiled at point-blank range by Adler's great reflexive block but the Hamburg keeper was out of luck in the next confrontation, spilling Clemens' powerful drive right at Szalai's feet to leave the sub with the simplest of finishes.
There were chances at both ends inside the final ten minutes, Hildebrand defusing a powerful header from Jacques Zoua and Matip firing wide from a great position following an 87th-minute free kick for the hosts, before Hamburg survived a final late flurry of corners to claim their share of the spoils.
Line-ups and match stats