Nicolai Müller scored a fine second-half brace as Hamburger SV beat Hertha Berlin at the Volksparkstadion in Matchday 25’s curtain-closer.
Goals: 1-0 Müller (58'), 2-0 Müller (75’)
With Albin Ekdal restored to the Hamburg starting line-up for the first time in over four months, the hosts were the more fluent side in the opening stages. Bruno Labbadia’s men enjoyed plenty of early possession, although struggled to carve out clear-cut chances. Indeed, HSV’s main attacking threats came from full-backs Matthias Ostrzolek and Gotoku Sakai, with the Japan international twice drawing saves from Hertha keeper Rune Jarstein. For their part, the high-flying visitors offered little in the opening 45 minutes, with only top-scorer Salomon Kalou looking dangerous.
The second period continued in much the same vein until a moment of class from Nicolai Müller put the hosts ahead in the 58th minute. Controlling the ball well after a poor clearance, the 28-year-old rifled into the far corner from the edge of the box, the accuracy of the shot leaving Jarstein no chance. Pal Dardai’s side improved briefly after going behind, with Vladimir Darida only denied by an excellent Rene Adler save in the 66th minute. Increasingly desperate though, Hertha threw everything forward and were picked off on the break by Hamburg, Müller rounding off a beautiful team move 15 minutes from time to seal three points.
Man of the match
Müller only had two chances, but took both clinically to secure HSV a vital victory and record his first brace for the club.
Sitting tenth with 31 points, Hamburg are seven points clear of the relegation zone with nine games to play. After contesting the relegation play-off in each of the last two seasons, could Labbadia have led HSV to mid-table dreamland?
- Ekdal made his return to the starting line-up after being out injured since 23 October 2015.
- Emir Spahic’s fifth yellow card of the season means the defender will miss the trip to his former club Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 26
- This was Müller’s fourth Bundesliga brace; his three previous doubles came for former club 1. FSV Mainz 05.
- Before Müller’s opener, the last time Hamburg scored a goal against Hertha was on 28 January 2012.
Hamburg: Adler (c) – Sakai, Cleber, Spahic, Ostrzolek – Ekdal (Kacar, 76’), Holtby – Müller (Bahoui, 88’), Hunt (Jung, 78’), Ilicevic – Rudnevs
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein - Plattenhardt, Brooks, Stark, Pekarik – Lustenberger (c) (Cigerci, 67’), Skjelbred - Kalou, Darida (Haraguchi, 67’), Weiser (Stocker, 82’) – Ibisevic