Bundesliga: Hamburg face relegation play-off after beating Schalke 2-0
Last Updated: 23/05/15 5:55pm
Hamburg earned a second chance at securing their Bundesliga status with a 2-0 win over Schalke on the final day of the season lifting them into a relegation play-off for the second season running.
Ivica Olic and Slobodan Rajkovic eased a tense afternoon in northern Germany with two goals in 10 second-half minutes as Hamburg climbed above Freiburg and saved their Bundesliga status at least for a few more weeks.
Defeat cost Schalke their fifth place in the final Bundesliga standings, meaning they may now need to get through a qualifying round for the group stage of next season's Europa League.
With captain Rafael van der Vaart suspended and Marcell Jansen injured, Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia was forced into changes with Marcelo Diaz brought in for a rare start.
There were many more changes for the Schalke side, though, with Marvin Friedrich given a rare start and Marco Hoger back after being suspended for a week by the Gelsenkirchen club.
Hamburg's problems worsened early on in the game when Pierre-Michel Lasogga fell on the shoulder he injured a week ago, and his day at the office was over with Artjoms Rudnevs coming on.
The Latvian then went closest to breaking the deadlock, but wasted a gilt-edged opportunity with the groans from the Hamburg fans heard all over Germany.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar nearly turned those groans to screams just before half-time, but he fired Schalke's best chance of the half wide of Rene Adler's post.
The mood inside the Volksparkstadion changed dramatically early in the second half when Olic picked his spot in the far corner and gave Hamburg the lead.
It turned to pure elation when Rajkovic headed in Lewis Holtby's free-kick to make it two.
Hamburg were doing their job and, with Freiburg losing and fellow strugglers Stuttgart only drawing at Paderborn, they were also doing enough to stay up with half an hour of the final game of the season remaining.
Stuttgart did grab a winner to dampen the celebrations a little, although Hamburg still have a chance to stay up when they face the side who finish third in the 2 Bundesliga in an end-of-season play-off for a place in the top flight next season.