Rafael van der Vaart was unable to inspire Hamburg SV on his return as Eintracht Frankfurt beat his side 3-2 to share the lead in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Van der Vaart did manage to set up Son Heung-min’s consolation goal for Hamburg, who played the second half with 10 men after Petr Jiracek was shown a red card for a lunge at Brazilian defender Anderson in first-half stoppage-time.
Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui opened the scoring in the 13th minute for Frankfurt, running at the Hamburg defense, before dinking a superb strike beyond the flailing Rene Adler.
Canada striker Olivier Occean made it 2-0 with his first Bundesliga goal five minutes later.
“We have to start like they did,” Van der Vaart said. “We have a young team, but we have to play.”
Heiko Westermann pulled one back from close range in the 45th minute when Artjoms Rudnevs headed Van der Vaart’s corner back across goal.
Referee Wolfgang Stark sent Thorsten Fink to the stands after Jiracek’s dismissal and the Hamburg coach watched as Stefan Aigner lifted the ball over Adler in the 52nd minute.
“I nicely told the referee that we’d never won a game with him,” Fink said. “He took that as an insult.”
Van der Vaart ensured a nervy finish 11 minutes later, when the Dutchman sent Son through with the outside of his left foot and the South Korean glided past Kevin Trapp, before slotting the ball in.
Fullback Dennis Diekmeier should have equalized with 15 minutes remaining, but Kevin Trapp, who made two good saves in the first half, again saved Frankfurt in a one-on-one.
“After 20 minutes, we thought it’s all the same and then we created a few chances, but when the confidence isn’t there anymore you make the wrong decisions,” Van der Vaart said.
Team P GD PTS
1 Bayern Munich 3 10 9
2 Eintracht Frankfurt 3 6 9
3 Hannover 96 3 5 7
4 Schalke 04 3 4 7
5 Borussia Dortmund 3 4 7
6 Nuremberg 3 2 7
7 Fortuna Duesseldorf 3 2 5
8 SC Freiburg 3 0 4
9 Borussia M’gladbach 3 0 4
10 VfL Wolfsburg 3 -3 4
11 Werder Bremen 3 0 3
12 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3 -2 3
13 SpVgg Greuther Furth 3 -4 3
14 FSV Mainz 05 3 -3 1
15 Augsburg 3 -4 1
16 VfB Stuttgart 3 -6 1
17 Hamburg SV 3 -4 0
18 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 3 -7 0
Promoted side Frankfurt and Bayern Munich are the only teams to win their opening three games, while Hamburg and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are the only teams yet to claim a point.
Former Germany goalkeeper Tim Wiese endured another miserable afternoon earlier on Sunday when SC Freiburg came from behind to beat his Hoffenheim side 5-3.
Matthieu Delpierre fired Hoffenheim ahead in the second minute, but poor defending allowed Karim Guede to equalize in the 17th minute and Max Kruse to put Freiburg in front 10 minutes later.
Boris Vukcevic equalized in the 57th minute, only for Fallou Diagne to beat two defenders to a corner and head beyond the stranded Wiese in the 68th.
Takashi Usami pulled Hoffenheim level again with a sharp turn and powerful shot in the 76th minute, but Wiese failed to deal with another corner, allowing Cedric Makiadi a simple tap-in in the 84th.
Sebastian Freis rounded the unfortunate goalkeeper to seal the result three minutes later.
Wiese has conceded 15 goals in five competitive games for Hoffenheim since his move from Werder Bremen, including four to fourth-tier side Berliner AK in the first round of the German Cup.
Hoffenheim’s fourth loss in a row in all competitions — their seventh including last season — leaves the side bottom of the Bundesliga and Markus Babbel in danger of being the first coaching casualty of the season.
“Some goals were scored that should not have been scored,” said Babbel, who refused to criticize Wiese. “We have to keep working.”