We'd seen a season-high 35 goals in the previous eight games on Matchday 23, but the weekend ended with just one enough as Hamburger SV secured all three points against Hertha Berlin when USMNT teammates Bobby Wood and John Brooks went head to head.
Goals: Ekdal (77')
It was all Hamburg in the opening minutes as the home side pushed to open the scoring with USMNT striker Bobby Wood forcing his way through the Hertha defence, but his cut-back to Aaron Hunt was cut out. The hosts then went close again as Nicolai Müller forced an excellent point-blank save out of Berlin keeper Rune Jarstein. The in-form Kyriakos Papadopoulos had the final chance of note in the half when he rose high at a free-kick, but the Greece international couldn’t direct his effort on goal.
The second 45 minutes began in a similar manner to the first as both sides struggled to carve out clear-cut chances against organised defences. The game began to stretch after the hour mark, and it was Hertha who almost took advantage when Vedad Ibisevic had a chance to shoot inside the HSV box. He instead elected to play in Vladimir Darida but made a mess of the pass. The capital club again came close when Darida’s effort from range deflected off a defender, leaving keeper Rene Adler stranded, but it went wide of the post. The deadlock was soon broken when Albin Ekdal tucked home inside the box for his first goal of the season with just 15 minutes left on the clock.
Man of the Match
Hamburg’s top scorer alongside Wood and Michael Gregoritsch, Müller once again proved himself as a useful attacking outlet for the Red Shorts. His four efforts on goal were at one point more than the entire Hertha team, and the 29-year-old’s 42 sprints were also more than anyone else on the pitch.
Despite having spent their adult lives in professional German football, international teammates Bobby Wood and John Brooks faced each other as opponents for the first time in this match. Brooks may have prevented his USMNT colleague from scoring personally, but Wood will no doubt be more pleased with the overall result at the Volksparkstadion.
- HSV have picked up 22 of their 23 points this season under Gisdol, despite the fact that he only took over six games into the campaign.
- Sixteenth-placed Hamburg are unbeaten in six home games, taking 14 of a possible 18 points since the end of November.
- Hertha are now four points off fourth-places Hoffenheim.
Hamburg: Adler (c) - Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Jung, Ostrzolek - Ekdal, Walace (Sakai 73') - Müller, Holtby (Kostic 57'), Hunt (Gregoritsch 89') – Wood
Coach: Markus Gisdol
Hertha: Jarstein - Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt - Stark (Duda 52'), Skjelbred - Haraguchi (Esswein 84'), Darida, Kalou - Ibisevic (c)
Coach: Pal Dardai
Watch: Bobby Wood on the key to HSV's win over Hertha: