Two teams almost at opposite ends of the form spectrum were brought together in an even first half with sights of goal a rarity. USMNT international Bobby Wood's burst of pace failed to open up a packed Frankfurt defence enough while, at the other end, just shortly after being pulled up for offside, Branimir Hrgota volleyed Frankfurt's first big chance over from close range.
Ante Rebic headed a good early chance over as Frankfurt tried to wrestle control of a tight, combative game. Michael Hector sent a shot straight against Rene Adler's upper body as the hosts' threat grew. Hamburg substitute Michael Gregoritsch had the home fans' hearts in their mouths with a free-kick which only just cleared the crossbar, and that proved to be the closest they came to scoring in a stalemate.
Man of the match
Russ returned to the Frankfurt starting XI for the first time after a ten-month battle against cancer and he fully deserved the standing ovation he received when he left the field with ten minutes left. His strong, energetic performance snuffed out the threat which Hamburg have been oozing in recent weeks, and Frankfurt can thank him for helping bring an end to a worrying losing streak.
For the first time since Matchday 12, Frankfurt find themselves outside the top six and their form since the turn of the year could cost them a place in Europe next season. Indeed, only Darmstadt have picked up fewer points (six) than the Eagles' seven, and the alarm bells are starting to ring like they did in 2011, when just eight points in the final 17 games saw them relegated despite being seventh at the midway stage of the season.
- Marco Russ made his comeback to the Frankfurt starting XI after cancer treatment, ten months after his last start.
- Marco Fabian took to the field from the start for the first time in 2017.
Frankfurt: Hradecky - Abraham, Russ (c) (81' Tawatha), Hector - Chandler, Gacinovic, Mascarell, Oczipka - Fabian, Hrgota (84' Meier), Rebic (90' Blum)
Coach: Niko Kovac
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Jung, Ostrzolek - Sakai (c), Ekdal – Hunt (71' Müller), Holtby (60' Gregoritsch), Kostic – Wood (90+1' Lasogga)
Coach: Markus Gisdol
Watch: Russ on his return to the starting XI after beating cancer: