Sat, May 17, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Nervous Hamburg held at home by Greuther Fuerth

Reuters, BERLIN

Hamburg SV’s Hakan Calhanoglu, right, vies for the ball with SpVgg Greuther Fuerth’s Stephan Fuerstner in their playoff in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Nervous Hamburg SV settled for a goalless draw at home to second-tier SpVgg Greuther Fuerth in their playoff first leg as the former European champions face the prospect of their first Bundesliga relegation.

Hamburg, the only top flight club never to have been relegated since the league’s creation in 1963, suffered a setback when goalkeeper Rene Adler injured his back during the warmup and Jaroslav Drobny came in to replace him.

With a sold-out crowd of 57,000 and their iconic stadium clock marking the 50 years, 264 days, 5 hours that the team has spent uninterrupted in the Bundesliga, Hamburg struggled against the best attack in the second division.

“They did it really well and had us under control, especially in the first half,” Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka told reporters. “They were extremely dangerous up front, but we still have one game left and Fuerth will be nervous at home.”

It was Fuerth forward Ilir Azemi who had the first chance, but the 22-year-old’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Drobny.

With experience in promotion battles, Greuther Fuerth, who were relegated last season, were more aggressive. Hamburg had to wait until the 44th minute for a chance, with Hakan Calhanoglu’s shot sailing wide.

Fuerth picked up where they left off after the break with Nikola Djurdjic missing a golden chance when he narrowly failed to connect with a perfectly timed cross into the penalty area.

Hamburg upped the tempo after an hour, with forward Pierre Michel Lasogga going close on two occasions as the hosts were urged forward by their fans, who grew more desperate as the minutes ticked away.

“We played a very good game today and we had good chances, but we did not bite,” Fuerth coach Frank Kramer said. “We have to do it on Sunday then.”

The two sides meet again tomorrow in the return leg, where away goals count double in the event of a draw.

Nuremberg and Eintracht Braunschweig were relegated from the Bundesliga, with Cologne and SC Paderborn 07 securing automatic promotion to the top flight.

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