Frankfurt - An energetic display helped Eintracht Frankfurt record just their second win since the turn of the year with a 2-1 victory over ten-man Hamburger SV on Saturday evening.
First blood to Frankfurt
Alexander Meier was once again the hero for the Eagles, scoring a goal in each half - and missing a late penalty - to condemn the visitors to their 11th defeat of the season. Zoltan Stieber gave HSV brief hope when he equalised just before the break, but Matthias Ostrzolek's sending off ultimately gave the visitors too big a mountain to climb.
Neither side had been in great form coming into this game, with a combined total of three wins in 2015 prior to kick-off, but you would never have guessed that from the opening exchanges, in which both teams dispensed with the customary period of sparring and went straight for the knock-out blow. The visitors had the first sight of goal when Artjoms Rudnevs turned on the after-burners and charged towards the Frankfurt box from the halfway line, only to see his effort saved by keeper Kevin Trapp.
Stefan Aigner had a chance at the other end almost immediately afterwards, but scuffed his shot under pressure from a defender. Gradually the hosts began to enjoy more of the ball and they went in front in the 12th minute when Meier netted his 15th goal of the season by coolly converting from the penalty spot after Lucas Piazon had gone down under Johann Djourou’s clumsy challenge.
It remained an entertaining game and the Eagles went close to extending their lead through long-distance efforts from Meier, Piazon and Bastian Oczipka. Hamburg battled well in midfield and were full of running but a well-drilled Frankfurt defence managed to keep them at arm’s length until just before the break, when lovely interplay on the edge of the box ended with Nicolai Müller threading a through-ball into Stieber, who slotted past Trapp to equalise on the stroke of half-time.
Seemingly affronted at conceding a goal from open play to the league’s lowest scorers, Frankfurt began the second period with renewed vigour. Takashi Inui’s trickery and movement had caused the guests difficulties all evening and he was again involved when the Eagles regained the lead, cutting in from the left and drawing a number of Hamburg players to him. After Marco Russ' resulting effort was blocked, the ball fell to Meier 20 yards out, and, spotting a gap, he side-footed a curling effort into the bottom corner.
Hamburg down to ten
Worse was to come for Hamburg shortly afterwards when Ostrzolek was sent off for a second bookable offence after bringing Aigner down from behind. Knowing that only a win would do to help start hauling them away from the relegation zone, Hamburg began playing more expansively, committing greater numbers forward.
That played into Frankfurt’s hands, allowing the hosts to sit back and attempt to kill the game off once and for all on the counter-attack. Yet despite creating good chances to do so, the hosts were unable add to the scoreline, with Meier missing the opportunity to grab a hat-trick by thundering a stoppage time penalty off the crossbar. It was of little consequence in the end, however, as Thomas Schaaf's side deservedly took the spoils, leaving Hamburg further embroiled in the relegation battle.
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