Hertha Berlin bested Hamburg SV 4-1 on Saturday, but the end result was not a fair reflection of what happened on the pitch. A bad pass, a missed penalty kick were typical of Hamburg's luck.
Marcelinho's red hair did not mean stop for Berlin
Some days a team can play excellent soccer and nevertheless walk off the field losers. That was the case for Thomas Doll's Hamburger SV who dropped their match against their nearest Bundesliga table competitors, Hertha Berlin, 4-1.
And the comments after the game were indicative of just how obvious the players on both clubs felt.
The man who started the barrage for Berlin, Claudio Reina, had nothing but praise for the north Germans. "Hamburg played really well." And Hertha goalkeeper Christian Fiedler was unimpressed with his team's play. "It was probably our worst game all season but we won."
Fourth minute goal set the tone Just as the players were getting warmed up, Hertha were the beneficiaries of a free-kick. With his new red colored hair, Marcelinho got the kick past the wall. Claudio Reina was on the spot and drove the ball into the goal. A shock for Hamburg but they didn't take it as such.
Hamburg dominated play in the next ten minutes and had the better opportunities. But as so frequently happens, a mistake at midfield led to a goal. Marcelinho won a ball in the center circle and found Gilberto who slyly beat two defenders and as keeper Pieckenhagen came out, put the ball between the goalie's legs. After that the game was for all intents and purposes over.
HSV continued to push ahead. One attack after the next failed and then the third goal was scored. This time Yildiray Bastürk won a ball at midfield, stormed down the center of the field. Pieckenhagen could stop his shot from 16 meters out but it landed on Marcelinho's foot and he scored into the empty net.
Hamburg fought on and just before the half were not granted a goal that looked to be 99 percent over the line.
Right through the wickets -- Gilberto's (left) shot rolls through the legs of Hamburg keeper Pieckenhagen
Second half chances given away
Thomas Doll's team did not give up in the second half and after 17 minutes, it looked like their efforts would pay off. Bastürk stopped a sure goal with his hand for which he saw red. Sergej Barbarez then misfired on the ensuing penalty kick and hit the post. That was symptomatic of their day.
Barbarez however would make up by scoring a goal in the 78th minute but it wouldn't be enough. In fact, Hamburg would make another error in their own end, which led to Gilberto's second goal of the match.
Hertha underscores European aspirations
Coming into this match, both teams were looking to move into the top five in the standings. Hertha now finds themselves of being at least in fifth-place and should Leverkusen and Stuttgart draw on Sunday, they will be in fourth.
Hamburg, up till today the best team in the second leg, have to lick their wounds and get ready for another big match next week, against Leverkusen. They played well but as Barbarez said after the game, they lacked the luck they had in last week's 2-1 victory against Kaiserslautern.