Hamburg had to dig deep after going behind early but their persistence paid off with a hard-fought 2-1 win over high-flying Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim made a typically upbeat start and won a penalty in the fifth minute when Jonathan Pitroipa was guilty of a clumsy challenge on Demba Ba from behind as the winger sought to prevent what looked to be an almost certain goal. The foul only delayed the inevitable as Sejad Salihovic stepped up and blasted the spot-kick into the roof of the net beyond Jaroslav Drobny.
Hamburg cut Hoffenheim open in the eighteenth minute when Drobny's mammoth goal-kick found Paolo Guerrero, who rounded Hoffenheim 'keeper Daniel Haas before squirting the ball into the side-netting as it agonisingly skipped away from the Peruvian.
Hamburg got a deserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Mladen Petric's left-foot volley beat Daniel Haas and allowed captain Heiko Westermann to tap the ball home from no more than a yard for his first HSV goal.
After the break, both sides committed men forward in search of a winner. Demba Ba proved to be the visitors' most potent threat as first he forced a save from Drobny with a long-range effort before hitting the bar from close range as the ball ricocheted off the striker's shin as he leaned back.
That sparked an almost instantaneous response from Hoffenheim with Drobny having to tip Sebastian Rudy's stinging volley over the bar. A minute later, Hamburg rued their luck as Guerrero's header inadvertently struck Joris Mathijsen on his calf, with the ball arrowing towards the net.
As the game wore on, Hamburg were in the ascendancy and Petric went close with a trademark thunderbolt from long-range in the 73rd minute. Substitute Heung-Min Son then blasted the ball into orbit when through on goal five minutes later.
Armin Veh's injury-ravaged outfit then secured the three points with a dramatic late winner from Mladen Petric, who made a lightning-quick recovery from a suspected knee problem to start the game. The Croatian was on hand to head home an inch-perfect cross from the indefatigable Ze Roberto with seven minutes to play.
Borussia Dortmund are the next opponents for this rejuvenated Hamburg side while Hoffenheim host Mainz's latest conquerors Freiburg next week.