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Sports

Bundesliga: Hamburg upset Hertha, Darmstadt contain Mainz

In Sunday's early match, Darmstadt-Mainz, there were fouls aplenty but no goals. Later, third-placed Hertha Berlin travelled to Hamburg, but the capital club found no joy against spirited hosts.

Hamburg 2-0 Hertha Berlin
(Müller 58', 75')

Hertha knew that they would remain third in the table regardless of the result in Hamburg, and perhaps that was one reason this match began sleepily.

With the capital club content to defend, Hamburg's Gotoku Sakai generated the only clear chance of the first half just before the interval. Rune Jarstein was able to palm it away, though.

Hamburg remained the more aggressive side and were rewarded after the restart. Lewis Holtby pushed up the left flank and picked out Nicolai Müller, who broke the ice with a precise shot into the lower right-hand corner.

Five minutes after the hour mark, Hertha finally created a decent chance on goal, but Emir Spahic blocked Vladimir Darida's attempt with one of the softer parts of the male anatomy. A short time later, Sakai shoved Vedad Ibisevic off the ball in the penalty area - the referee's whistle, however, remained silent.

Ten minutes later, Holtby drew Hertha central defender John Anthony Brooks out of position, and a wide-open Müller bagged his brace. It was a fair reflection of the course of the match, in which the hosts kept more of the ball and had far more promising attacks.

"As you can see, Hamburg were the better side today, and they deserved to win," Hertha coach Pal Dardai said after the match. "It was like night and day. When you play like that, there's no way you're going to win."

The 2-0 win lifts Hamburg all the way up to tenth in the table. One point is now all that separates Hertha from fourth-placed Schalke, who they face at the start of the next matchday.

Darmstadt frustrate Mainz

Fussball Bundesliga 26. Spieltag 06.03. 2016 FSV Mainz 05 vs. SV Darmstadt 98

Donati shot Mainz in the foot by picking up a foolish red card

Mainz 0-0 Darmstadt

A home engagement against the Bundesliga's smallest club must have seemed like a fine opportunity for Bayern-beaters Mainz to extend their run of good form. But Darmstadt have proven tough to subdue, especially away, and they were typically determined and physical in Sunday's early match.

Mainz hogged the ball in the first half, maintaining two-thirds of possession, but it was the Lillies who had more shots on goal. Neither team, however, had their scoring boots on, and the match was goalless at half-time.

Ten minutes after the break, Mainz should have grabbed the lead on the breakaway, but Jhon Cordoba's ball control let him down. Only one minute later, Giulio Donati let his teammates down, seeing a straight red for an unnecessary revenge foul on Sandro Wagner.

Darmstadt were unable to make their man advantage felt, with Mainz getting a few chances from set-pieces. The Lillies upped the pressure in the waning minutes, but couldn't find a way through.

The end result was a scoreless draw. The one point earned took Mainz up to fifth in the table. Darmstadt are in fifteenth, two points above the relegation zone.

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