BERLIN – Werder Bremen took a big step towards Bundesliga survival with a 1-0 home win over Hamburg SV after a late own goal by visiting defender Rick van Drongelen in a fiery German Nordderby on Saturday.
Werder climbed to 14th with 26 points from 24 matches, while Hamburg’s status as the only ever-present team in the Bundesliga since its creation in 1963 remained in danger in 17th, seven points behind Mainz, who occupy the playoff berth.
“The defeat is horrible, but we are Hamburg. We keep on fighting and have always managed to do it,” said winger Andre Hahn.
At the top of the table, Bayern Munich were held to a 0-0 home draw by Hertha Berlin, who denied the runaway leaders a club record 15th successive win in all competitions.
Werder deserved their win, becoming more dominant as the second half wore on.
In the 86th minute, goalkeeper Christian Mathenia could not hold a shot from substitute Aron Johannsson and Dutchman van Drongelen, trying to clear, merely managed to push the ball over the line.
Mathenia had minutes earlier made a leaping save from a header by Maximilian Eggestein as the home side piled on the pressure, but there had been few clear cut chances before that.
Referee Felix Zwayer walked both teams to the side of the pitch shortly before halftime when Hamburg fans set off fireworks in the visiting stand.
The delay, however, lasted barely a minute and the incident had little of the fire that both sets of players put into a pulsating derby of relentless attacking from end to end.
Bayern, who failed to score in a league game at home for the first time since May 2015, went 20 points clear at the top with 60 from 24 matches.
But second-placed Borussia Dortmund can cut that advantage to 17 if they beat Augsburg at home on Monday.
“It was incredibly tough against Hertha, who played very deep. But if you want to win games, you have to take chances,” said Bayern’s David Alaba.
Two thirds of the way through what's been a low-scoring weekend with no shortage of drama ⚽ pic.twitter.com/oTXcRXAPR5
Bayern had the bulk of possession and chances, but were frustrated by good defensive work from Hertha, however Frank Ribery should have done better with a clear chance in the first half.
Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein made several stops from striker Robert Lewandowski and a diving save from Arjen Robben’s free kick in stoppage time.
Third-placed Eintracht Frankfurt lost 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart, with Erik Thommy scoring the only goal in the 13th minute, leaving them on 39 points, one ahead of Bayer Leverkusen before their home match with Schalke 04 on Sunday.
With RB Leipzig also not playing until Sunday, Borussia Moenchengladbach won 1-0 at Hanover 96 to climb to seventh on 34 points, while Hoffenheim drew 1-1 at home to Freiburg.