Defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, on loan from Leverkusen, scored the only goal of the night as relegation-threatened Hamburg bagged three big points.
Hamburg 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
For 45 minutes, if not an hour, Friday's Bundesliga fixture looked destined to deliver no goals, few highlights, and plenty of fouls. The first half pitted two well-organized but out-of-form teams against one another in a pressurized environment, creating a game with less rhythm than an elementary school violin ensemble.
Visitors Leverkusen could not manage a shot at all in the first half, and took 55 minutes to secure a corner. They did commit a season-high 15 fouls before half time, though, in a sign of the shape the game was taking. Roger Schmidt was forced to dip into his bench at half time, bringing Stefan Kiessling on for extra firepower up front. HSV did at least get shots away before the break, but Bernd Leno was almost as untroubled in Leverkusen's goal as his opposite number Rene Adler.
However, the second half immediately showed signs that there might yet be life in the match, when US international Bobby Wood broke clear for Hamburg and fired his shot just wide. The ball hit the frame behind the goal, prompting many in the crowd to think Wood had struck the woodwork, or even scored.
Still, the chances from open play were few and far between, so it came as little surprise when the deadlock was broken from a set piece. Filip Kostic won HSV a free kick on the flank, and Lewis Holtby's cross was met by Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Papdopoulos joined Hamburg on loan - from Leverkusen - during the January transfer window.
"We were clearly the better team over the 90 mintues," Hamburg's new number 9 said after living up to the unusual choice of jersey number for a bruising center back.
'Papa' timed his first goal at the Volksparkstadion perfectly, from Hamburg's perspective and a personal one
Despite using three attacking options off the bench, including giving a debut to Jamaican teenager Leon Bailey, Leverkusen only really threatened to equalize once. Stefan Kiessling hit Rene Adler's crossbar with a deflected header, but lamented his side's attacking impotence after the game.
"When you only have two chances all game, that's just too few," the club captain said, later becoming defensive when pressed on the reasons for Leverkusen's dip in form.
The Werkself sits ninth in the table after Friday's defeat but Mainz, Schalke and Augsburg could leapfrog them with weekend wins.
Hamburg, meanwhile, haul themselves out of the bottom two with the win; Ingolstadt could reclaim 16th place with a result in Berlin against Hertha on Saturday.
You can re-read our play-by-play coverage below.