Hamburg's hopes of maintaining their status as the Bundesliga's "dinosaurs" - having played in all 51 seasons - were dented again. They were defeated 3-1 at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Hamburg went into Sunday's duel desperate to redress the disappointing result against Freiburg in mid-week. The 1-1 draw felt like a defeat because A) they were at home to one of only five teams they have conquered so far in this campaign, and B) the Sport Club are direct relegation rivals. But HSV's status as the "Bundesliga Dinosaurs" (the only club to have played in all 51 seasons of the top flight) is starting to feel more like a burden rather than a badge of honor.
Mönchengladbach, meanwhile, began the day just two points behind Mainz in a Europa League place. But in the opening half-hour, neither side seemed aware of the reality that a draw was much use to either of them - with all of three shots going vaguely goal-wards as the two sides spent too long sizing each other up.
It was fitting then that a set-piece broke the deadlock. Hakan Calhanoglu's awkward diagonal free-kick in the 28th minute was nodded home by Jacques Zoua - a well-taken header, but it was a gift from the home side's defense.
Just a few minutes later, Hamburg repaid the favor when Michael Mancienne opted to challenge for a high cross with his arms flailing over his head. When the ball clattered into his hands off Dominguez' head, the referee could only award a penalty. Filip Daems duly converted - though only on the second attempt after his weak first effort bounced off Rene Adler's legs.
Shortly afterwards, Gladbach should have taken the lead when Juan Arango ran into a bus-sized hole in HSV's defense, but he was unable to get the ball past the on-rushing keeper.
The second half was also cagey, as HSV failed to capitalize on their possession and Gladbach could not muster a useful attack. But despite a lackluster display, the hosts eventually took the lead thanks to five seconds of sublime link-up play between Christoph Kramer, Max Kruse, and Raffael, who ran on to the end of Kruse's dinked pass, rounded Adler, and fired home.
The goal broke Hamburg's spirit, and just three minutes later Gladbach finally deigned to bury their guests. Another free-kick, this one from the right, was allowed to pass clean through the whole penalty area and Dominguez was on hand to tap the ball in.
Despite a flurry of corners in the final minutes, and one great chance that Rafael van der Vaart hammered over the bar, HSV failed to score, and left the pitch still with only 24 points - and their heads drooping. Gladbach, meanwhile, leapfrogged Mainz into the Europa League places.
Bremen beat Hannover away
In Sunday's late game, Werder Bremen scored a rare away win, as they beat Hannover 2-1. Both sides, on a precarious 29 points going into the game, had a major opportunity to break free of the relegation tussle. Bremen - the visitors - came out swinging, and Ron-Robert Zieler pulled off a series of great saves to keep the scores level - especially when Clemens Fritz curled an effort towards his right-hand post.
It looked like it would just be a matter of time before Werder made the breakthrough, but the hosts slowly found their rhythm and were soon bothering Bremen's penalty area. That opened the game up, as Bremen continued to find chances to maraud forward, but it was a set-piece that broke the deadlock. Hungarian international Szabolcs Huszti scored the opener in the 43rd minute direct from a narrow-angled free-kick that sneaked round a cowering wall and into Raphael Wolf's near-post. The home side nearly grabbed a second before the break as Bremen appeared utterly discombobulated.
Having evidently gathered themselves at half-time, Werder found their way back into what became a frenetic end-to-end second half. They finally got the equalizer in the 57th minute with a lightning fast counter - Eljero Elia held the ball up brilliantly to find Franco Di Santo, who slotted home with aplomb.
The last half-hour of the game seemed to be played exclusively in the final thirds of the pitch at either end, as the sides matched each other, counter-attack for counter-attack. Leon Andreasen very nearly put the home side back in the lead, only to be denied by a handball-style reaction save from Wolf.
Then, in the 90th minute, Sebastian Prödl got the winner - powering in a header as a corner was knocked on to him. There was still time for a Hannover attack - in the form of a Christian Schulz header - to be denied again by Wolf in a breathless two minutes of injury time, but Bremen held on to claimed the points. The win means they're virtually assured of surviving into next season.