Following a 1-1 draw with Karlsruher in the first leg of their relegation/promotion play-off game, Hamburg’s future for Bundesliga tournament hangs in the balance. It was RouwenHennings who gave the second division side the lead, but Ivo Ilicevic’s strike in the 72th minutes brought the hosts back level in the tie. Both club’s future for the top tier tournament will be completed at the Wildparkstation on Monday (1/6).
In order to stand any chance maintaining the 52-year top-flight status, Hamburg will have to score in the second leg, as the away-goals rule applied if the two sides are still level at the end of 90 minute in the upcoming game. A year ago, Hamburg benefited from the away-goal rule to kick out Greuther Furth in the play-off. And here they were needing two extra games to secure their top-flight status.
Hamburg last season’s hero was Pierre-Michel Lasogga, who has just recovered from a shoulder injury to take his responsibility in Bruno Labbadia’s attack on Thursday’s clash (28/5). Karlsruher was the side who took the early action by taking a fourth-minute lead through Hennings, a product of the Hamburg youth academy. Dimitri Nazarov’s pass wide to Hennings was arrowed into the far corner of Rene Adler’s goal to silence the VolksparkStadion.
At the interval of the game, the visitors were having better value than Hamburg as the host were unable to craft a way through. Karlsruher continued to look superior to their opponents, who have never been relegated from Bundesliga. Karlsruher could have doubled their advantage in the early of second half, but after Manuel Torres struck the crossbar, Nazarov followed with a stunning goal kick effort from distance. Hennings is the Second Division top scorer this season with 17 goals to his name and displayed all his predatory instincts, latching onto a ball in the left side and clipping an accurate shot across Rene Adler.
A second-half equalizer from Ivo Ilicevic gives Hamburg a fighting chance of securing their Bundesliga status. The Croat’s first goal of the season leaves the relegation-promotion playoff finely poised ahead of Monday’s second leg in Karlsruhe. He scored what could prove to be a golden this season, slotting in from a pass by Dennis Diekmeier as the 56,000 crowd erupted in celebration.
Hamburg are the only remaining founding member of the Bundesliga never to be relegated since the league began in 1963. The club need to beat Karlsruher or draw with more than one goal in the return leg to stay up at the top-flight tournament.