Franco Di Santo settled the contest from the penalty spot seven minutes from time after Valon Behrami had been sent off for a professional foul on Zlatko Junuzovic on what turned out to be a miserable return to the HSV dugout for Bruno Labbadia.
Ahead of the game, players and fans paid their respects to Grün-Weißen legend Arnold 'Pico' Schütz, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80. The Bremen-Walle native turned out 826 times for the Green-Whites, captaining them to their maiden Bundesliga title in 1965 as well as scoring a hat-trick in the first ever Nordderby of the Bundesliga era.
Once the game got under way, it was the home side doing most of the running, albeit without yet testing HSV goalkeeper Rene Adler. Bremen debutant Koen Casteels got his hands on the ball for the first time to make a routine save from Pierre-Michel Lasogga, before Jannick Vestergaard was forced off following a meaty challenge from Rafael van der Vaart and replaced in the Bremen back four by Assani Lukimya.
Hungarian winger Zoltan Stieber spurned a great chance to put the visitors ahead when he side footed wide from 18 yards after 28 minutes. Bremen ended the half on top, though, with Di Santo volleying over from a tight angle and then teeing up David Selke, who sent a disappointing first-time effort high and wide of the target from ten yards.
The contest followed a similar pattern at the start of the second half as Stieber shot straight at Casteels after Bremen failed to clear their lines. The Green-Whites were back on the offensive minutes later, but veteran Hamburg defender Heiko Westermann was first to another probing Di Santo cross.
Di Santo on the spot
To add a bit of spice to proceedings, Bremen head Viktor Skripnik coach gave 19-year-old midfielder Levin Öztunali - grandson of HSV legend Uwe Seeler no less - his first taste of Nordderby action. The fresh legs gave the home side a lift, although it was Di Santo who continued to carry the biggest threat, the Argentine cutting inside and warming the palms of Adler on the hour-mark.
Adler pulled off a fantastic fingertip save to deny Öztunali a fairytale goal, but he couldn't repeat the trick from the penalty spot. Di Santo sent the HSV custodian the wrong way following a needless foul on Junuzovic by Behrami as Bremen chalked up their 500th Bundesliga win at the Weserstadion.
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