April 28, 2018 / 6:39 PM / 24 days ago

Soccer: Struggling Hamburg beat Wolfsburg in relegation derby

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former European champions Hamburg SV edged past hosts VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 in their relegation derby on Saturday to continue their desperate comeback to stay in the Bundesliga with two matches remaining.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - VfL Wolfsburg v Hamburger SV - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - April 28, 2018 Wolfsburg's Koen Casteels makes a save from Hamburg's Filip Kostic REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

A 43rd minute penalty by Bobby Wood put the visitors in front and Lewis Holtby doubled their lead with a glancing header on the stroke of halftime.

Josip Brekalo slipped his 78th minute free kick past Hamburg keeper Julian Pollersbeck to give Wolfsburg some hope.

But Hamburg, the only team to have played in the Bundesliga every season since the top division’s creation in 1963, scored in stoppage time with Luca Waldschmidt to seal their third win in the last four matches.

The northern club are still 17th but have clawed their way back to within two points of the relegation playoff spot and 16th-placed Mainz 05 who have 30 points and are in action against RB Leipzig on Sunday.

“We are still a long way from being dead,” said scorer Holtby. “I have been saying it for some time. We do 100 percent what our coach demands and then we reap the rewards.”

“The fans are behind us and now we have the semi-final,” he said in reference to next week’s penultimate league game against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Wolfsburg are also on 30 points, in 15th on goal difference.

Schalke 04 failed to seal their Champions League spot for next season after drawing 1-1 against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - VfL Wolfsburg v Hamburger SV - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - April 28, 2018 Hamburg's Bobby Wood celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

They also had Nabil Bentaleb sent off for striking Gladbach’s Lars Stindl, who had to be taken off injured after twisting his foot a little later.

Schalke are second on 57 points, with Borussia Dortmund, who travel to Werder Bremen on Sunday, in third on 54.

TOP-FOUR RACE

Bayer Leverkusen’s own Champions League hopes were dented with a 1-0 loss at VfB Stuttgart as they dropped to fifth on 51, allowing Hoffenheim to leapfrog them into fourth on 52 after their 3-1 victory over Hanover 96 on Friday.

The top four teams qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.

A second-string Bayern Munich that included four reserve players in the starting lineup, eased past Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 as coach Jupp Heynckes rested his players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Real Madrid.

Bundesliga debutant Niklas Dorsch scored the opener and Sandro Wagner, Rahinha and Niklas Suele were also on target as next season’s Bayern coach Niko Kovac watched quietly from the Eintracht bench.

Soccer Football - Bundesliga - VfL Wolfsburg v Hamburger SV - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg, Germany - April 28, 2018 Hamburg players applaud the fans at the end of the match REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Bottom club Cologne were relegated despite coming back from two goals down to lose 3-2 at Freiburg.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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