Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 spurned a host of chances against an enterprising Hamburger SV at the Veltins Arena as the sides ended 2014 with a 0-0 draw.
Hosts in control
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hit the bar early on, and although Schalke enjoyed the best of the first half, Hamburg improved as the game wore on. The visitors could have stolen all three points through Lewis Holtby, but Schalke rattled the woodwork in the final stages as both sides were forced to settle for a point.
With Huntelaar boasting more Bundesliga goals than an inexperienced HSV starting line-up put together, Roberto Di Matteo’s side were aggressive from the off. The best early chance fell to the Dutchman, whose header crashed against the bar. Tranquillo Barnetta then came close with a diving header in the eighth minute but could only direct his effort straight at Jaroslav Drobny, while Huntelaar’s shot a minute later went the same way.
By the quarter-hour mark, the hosts were enjoying 69 per cent of possession, but again squandered an opportunity to take the lead when Felipe Santana’s flick-on evaded Huntelaar at the back post. Although Schalke were dominant, their three-man back line was not convincing the Veltins Arena faithful, who watched with bated breath when Artjoms Rudnevs’ cross found an unmarked Petr Jiracek at the back post, whose shot sailed high and wide.
Hamburg bite back
The chance galvanised HSV, who pressed higher in an attempt to force Schalke’s defenders into mistakes. Di Matteo’s men responded by moving the ball more to the flanks with greater urgency, and Christian Fuchs should have taken advantage when he powered his volley wide. Despite Schalke’s dominance, the visitors enjoyed the best chance of the game seconds before the break, but Rudnevs, one-on-one with Ralf Fährmann, sent his shot wide.
At 0-0, Hamburg were still very much in the game, however, and began the second half encouragingly. After Drobny foiled Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the 48th minute, Joe Zinnbauer’s men made all the running. Holtby, whose last Bundesliga goal came in Schalke colours, drew Fährmann into a low save, and Matthias Ostrzolek’s effort from distance underlined their pressure as the hour-mark approached.
Schalke were creating little, and Holtby again came close, his 61st-minute shot blocked by Benedikt Höwedes, while Mohamed Gouaida’s control let him down in a promising position from Nicolai Müller’s pass. With Hamburg's forward play undermined by persistent ball retention errors, the game began to open up in the closing stages. Barnetta worried Drobny with a curling free kick, but the hosts were equally prone to panic at the other end as Fährmann almost fatefully misjudged an Ostrzolek cross in the 75th minute.
The Schalke custodian made up for his error with two brilliant saves to deny Gouaida and Holtby as the clock ticked towards a conclusion, but with neither side seemingly happy to end the year with a draw, Choupo-Moting forced a fantastic stop from Drobny at the other end. Five minutes from time, Roman Neustädter finally beat Drobny, but not the post, as both sides were forced to end 2014 with a hard-fought point.
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