Jose Paolo Guerrero’s late strike was enough to give Hamburg SV a 1-0 win at Cologne to overtake the hosts and go 10th in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Guerrero scored in the 88th minute after Mladen Petric sent the ball over the Cologne defense for the Peru striker to shrug off a defender and chip goalkeeper Michael Rensing from a tight angle.
Both sides had looked unlikely to score before that, with off-field action claiming most of the attention after Cologne fined injured striker Lukas Podolski for telling a newspaper “much was promised and little delivered” at the club.
Cologne’s Martin Lanig had the ball in the net in the 62nd minute, but the midfielder’s celebrations were short-lived as his headed goal was ruled out for offside.
Petric should have done better shortly afterwards when he hooked the ball over with only Rensing to beat and the Croatian striker missed an even better chance in the 73rd minute when he fired wide after Guerrero played him through.
Guerrero then set Dennis Aogo free in the 83rd minute, but Rensing denied the Hamburg defender when he seemed certain to score.
Guerrero finally settled the issue with his sixth goal of the season.
“We fought to the end. It was important and it paid off,” Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink said.
It was the first — and only — goal of the day in the Bundesliga, after Augsburg and Nuremberg played out a 0-0 draw earlier, a result that suited neither team in their struggle against relegation.
“We knew it would be a hard season. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re struggling,” said Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking, who nevertheless saw the positive side of the draw. “We’ve kept a direct rival at a distance.”
The first half was one of hard tackles and few chances, and the game only came to life in the last 15 minutes, when Alexander Esswein fired wide for Nuremberg, before Simon Jentzsch then denied the Nuremberg striker with a fine save.
Augsburg’s winter signing, Koo Ja-choel, had a shot that was pushed onto the crossbar by Nuremberg goalkeeper Raphael Schaefer in the final minutes, when both sides also had penalty appeals turned down.
Augsburg remain second from bottom of the table, while Nuremberg are two places above the relegation playoff place.
“We can only get further with wins,” Augsburg coach Jos Luhukay said. “We need three points there, where we are.”