Nicolai Müller scored both of Hamburg's goals in their 2-0 victory over Hertha BSC. With these three points in hand, the hosts now move up to tenth in the league.
Dull first half leads to few chances
The chances fell few and far between for the hosts throughout the match but they got things started. In the tenth minute Vedad Ibisevic tested Rene Adler. He got his head onto the end of a Marvin Plattenhardt cross but the effort fell straight to the goalkeeper.
Six minutes later, Artjoms Rudnevs came close to scoring for the hosts. Rudnevs redirected a cross from Matthias Ostrzolek with his head only to watch it miss by a couple of inches. With ten minutes remaining in the half, Gotoku Sakai unleashed a shot from outside of the area. In the end, Sakai's right-footed blast did not test Rune Jarstein at all.
As the first half wore down, Hamburg upped their pressure. Off of a corner kick, their Brazilian center back, Cleber, missed the target with is head. Then Sakai had another look at the target but the ball got blocked before it could weave its way through. Lewis Holtby followed up by hitting a shot that went nowhere near the frame of the goal.
Hamburg's final chance of the opening stanza came in the 44th minute. Sakai got involved in the action again; he was a key figure for Hamburg throughout the first 45. The Japanese international tried to curl the ball past the Hertha goalkeeper, but failed.
Hamburg pressure pays off
The breakthrough finally came thirteen minutes after the halftime interval. Lewis Holtby ran all the way to the byline before cutting a pass back towards the middle of the area. Niklas Stark whiffed on his clearance and the ball found the feet of Nicolai Müller. He took one touch before turning and firing past a defenseless Jarstein.
There was almost an equalizer in the 65th minute fpr Hertha. Marvin Plattenhardt stormed down the left hand side and sent in a dangerous cross. Adler came off his line to punch the cross away but it found Vladimir Darida. His shot got blocked, but if it found its way through, it would have forced the Hamburg shot stopper to do a bit of work.
Four minutes later, Salomon Kalou had slipped Vedad Ibisevic through on goal. He took a couple of steps inside the penalty area and looked to have fallen because of a push from a Hamburg defender. But the referee did not reward a penalty despite some protests by Ibisevic.
The hosts put this match to rest ten minutes after their initial goal. Hamburg used great team play to score their second. Aaron Hunt laid the ball off to Lewis Holtby before finding Nicolai Müller in space. He struck his right foot out and while Jarstein got a hand on the shot, it was not enough to keep it from going into the net.
This victory was huge for Hamburg. Their form had been dipping a lot. And had they not gotten the three points, Hamburg could have been in a relegation fight.