HSV continue on same path
The Bundesliga matchday 22 home victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach had many interesting aspects, and not only the dream goal scored by Rafael van der Vaart. HSV.de reflects on a dramatic day in Hamburg.
"It was fantastic today", enthused Slobodan Rajkovic following his side's 1-0 victory over Gladbach on Saturday (16.02.13). The Serbian defender had done a sterling job in his first game for HSV since July 2012. He got his chance to shine following the injury to English central defender Michael Mancienne and the suspension of Jeff Bruma, who was sent off during HSV's famous 4-1 victory away to the reigning Bundesliga champions and DFB Cup holders Borussia Dortmund the previous week.
Without doubt the 1-0 matchday 22 home win over Gladbach was a hard-earned one. The huge crowd of 54,558 inside the Imtech Arena did not see a firework display of sparkling football, which was hardly surprising, as Gladbach had been in action drawing 3-3 at home to Lazio Rome less than two days before. What they did see was a battling Rothosen side who played with plenty of passion - especially during the first half. Head coach Thorsten Fink: "My team showed that they wanted to win today which is something I liked about today." It was almost impossible to pick out any one department from the team to say that they were the reason for the slender but deserved win. All departments played well, starting in goal, where Jaroslav Drobny produced a faultless display in place of first choice stopper René Adler. Slobodan Rajkovic, returning to the team after so long, played as if he had never been away. Add to that a strong midfield and an ever-dangerous attack and it becomes clear that a solid team performance was the key to success on the day.
van der Vaart: Blast from the past
One players turned the game on its head with a stroke of genius: On 24 minutes Rafael van der Vaart met a square pass from Ajrtoms Rudnevs perfectly, sending the ball into the top right hand corner of the Gladbach at blistering pace. That goal was the difference between the two sides as it turned out. The 30 year old Dutch midfielder seems to like facing Gladbach: In the first meeting between the two sides in September 2012, van der Vaart scored a similar goal in the 2-2 draw in Mönchengladbach. His goal was like the ones he scored during his firast spell in Hamburg – a real blast from the past. On the whole, Saturday's 1-0 victory was deserved, because Gladbach coach Lucien Favre's men were unable to create enough danger. There were however some critical words from Rothosen boss Fink who observed: "We all saw how our perfomance level dramatically dropped after the break. There is a lot of room for improvement there."
The coach used that fact to quash any possible thoughts of "Europa League" football next season. First and foremost the focus is on HSV's next task, which will be tough enough as it is. On Saturday (23.02.2013), the Rothosen travel to Niedersachsen for a northern German summit against Hannover 96. Fink's philosophy of taking things one game at a time is working well. As the past two games have underlined.