Harnik secures hard-fought draw in Wolfsburg

Martin Harnik’s late equaliser was enough to secure a draw for the Rothosen against Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on Thursday (5th September) at the AOK Stadion, after Marcel Tisserand’s 60th minute opener. 

Dieter Hecking used the friendly to give a number of players game time, with seven changes compared to the team that started against Hannover on Sunday, with only Jung, Leibold, Kinsombi and Narey keeping their places. Former Wolfsburg manager Hecking gave a first start in HSV colours to new signings Xavier Amaechi and Martin Harnik, the latter of whom had only signed for the club on deadline day on Monday.

Wearing the club’s pink away kit for the first time, HSV were pushed back during the opening exchanges, with the home side enjoying a lot of the ball without ever truly threatening to breach the Rothosen’s defences. After a tepid opening twenty minutes, the game sprang into life midway through the half. Aaron Hunt gave the ball away in a promising position and Wolfsburg countered quickly, only for Felix Klaus’ left-footed effort to fly wide of Tom Mickel’s right-hand upright. New signing Harnik had the chance to open his account for his new employers after HSV had the won ball high up the pitch, only for the native Hamburg man’s first touch to let him down, and Menzel was able to come out and smother his effort. The attention switched straight down the other end straight away as Papadopoulos’ tackle on Joao Victor saw the ball break to Felix Klaus inside the area, only for the Greek to make another crunching last-ditch challenge to leave Tom Mickel’s untroubled in the Hamburg net.

The aforementioned Mickel was brought into action just after the half-hour mark, as Klaus’ effort from 25 yards out dipped and swerved in the air, with the second choice goalkeeper only able to parry as far as William. The Wolves’ right-back’s left-footed effort was heading for the top corner, only for Mickel to somehow claw it out and keep the game goalless. After a slow start to the game, Mickel and Menzel both had to be on their toes on a number of occasions as the half drew to a close, with Harnik proving most dangerous for the visitors. 

Harnik equaliser after Wolfsburg wastefulness

The hosts came out of the half-time break the stronger, with substitute Azzaoui testing the Hamburg defence with his pace and directness. With Narey backing off, the Wolfsburg winger’s lay-off found Victor, only for the striker’s effort to be deflected by Papadopoulos onto the bar with ‘keeper Pollersbeck stranded. Pollersbeck, having been substituted on at half-time for Mickel, was called into action a few minutes later, as Arnold set Klaus free, only for Pollersbeck to stand tall in the resulting one-vs-one and palm his effort away strongly. Just before the hour mark, Martin Harnik dallied on the ball too long, losing the ball and giving away a dangerous free kick in the process. William’s effort from the left-hand edge of the area was tipped round the post by the Hamburg ‘keeper, only for the home side to go ahead from the resulting corner kick. Maxi Arnold played it short to William, whose cross from the left-hand side was flicked into the net by the Wolves’ centre-half Marcel Tisserand. 

Despite going ahead, it was the hosts who continued to press, with the Rothosen wasteful in possession and not as comfortable under pressure as their Bundesliga opponents. Felix Klaus’ long-range effort tested Pollersbeck again whilst a dangerous ball from William flashed all the way across the face of goal. As the game entered the final quarter of an hour the pressure from the Wolves relented and HSV were able to gain more control of the ball, in front of 2,198 spectators at the AOK Stadion. Substitute Gyamerah provided impetus down the right and freed Khaled Narey in the 82nd minute. Narey’s cross found Jairo Samperio in the middle and the Spaniard’s header flicked over Menzel, only for Jefrey Bruma to sprint round his goalkeeper and clear off the line at the last minute.

The pressure was now unrelenting from the Rothosen, and Gideon Jung’s skidding effort from the resulting corner was only palmed away at the last second by Menzel. Sonny Kittel’s set-piece delivery was proving the difference, as one of his corners was floated straight into the six-yard area in the 88th minute, and new signing Martin Harnik rose highest to head into the far corner. With the game entering the closing stages it was the HSV fans behind Menzel’s goal who were by far the loudest, with their side pushing for what would have been an undeserved equaliser on the balance of play. As it was as the final whistle blew soon after, and there was nothing to split the sides on the scoreboard at least. HSV’s strong final quarter of the game had yielded the sought-after equaliser, yet when considering the overall picture, Oliver Glasner’s side will be ruing their wastefulness, particularly in the first half an hour of the second half where they had a host of chances.

VfL Wolfsburg: Menzel - Tisserand, Guilavogui (46‘ Arnold), Bruma - William (71’ Justvan), Rexhbecaj, Gerhardt, Roussillon (71’ Horn) - Klaus, Weghorst (46’ Azzaoui), Joao Victor

Hamburger SV: Mickel (46’ Pollersbeck) - Narey, Jung, Papadopoulos, Leibold - Jairo, Kinsombi, Hunt (75’ Kittel) - Harnik, Wood (64’ Gyamerah), Amaechi (64’ Jatta)

Goals: Tisserand (60’), Harnik (88’)