Toppi grateful for Takahara
By Thomas Zeh
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Naohiro Takahara eased the pressure on Hamburg's Klaus Toppmoller.
Hamburg coach Klaus Toppmoller was a relieved man after a double-strike from out-of-favour forward Naohiro Takahara secured a close fought 2-1 victory over Hertha Berlin.
Toppmoller acknowledged his side were fortunate to win the game and paid tribute to his team.
"We were lucky as it was an open game against strong opposition," he stated.
"My team fought hard and showed the necessary character to win the game," explained the former Leverkusen coach, who was under serious pressure to claim maximum points following his team's disappointing start to the season.
Following the game, 'Toppi' was quick to dismiss rumours of a rift with Takahara.
The Japanese striker had recently revealed his desire to leave the club due to a build up of frustration over his limited first team opportunities.
However, Toppi was quick to reassure his striker saying: "People should not forget that Takahara was injured and needed to build up his fitness.
"Playing him in the reserves was not punishment.
"He played well and impressed me in training, so he deserved his chance and has proven to me that he is a quality striker."
While the pressure on 'Toppi' should now ease following the victory, Hertha coach Falko Gotz is aware that his winless side must book three points soon.
"I know that in football no-one looks past today," he said.
"It would be great to be given time to build something, but coaches have everything but time.
"We showed the right attitude and passion, but we were unlucky and that is why I am disappointed," revealed Gotz, who returned to Hertha after being sacked by 1860 Munich last season.