Ruud van Nistelrooy scored under dubious circumstances as Hamburg sunk Schalke.Under-fire coach Armin Veh got a bit of a break from referee Knut Kircher as Hamburg edge Schalke 1-0 at the Veltins-Arena. Ruud van Nistelrooy, who last night was reported to have demanded a transfer to Real Madrid, scored the only goal of the match on 53 minutes as the veteran appeared to strike the ball with his hands and head.
The visitors arguably had the better chances in what was an often cagey first half. Anis Ben-Hatira was through on goal in the ninth minute, but had his effort diverted just wide by Manuel Neuer. In the 26th minute, makeshift centre half Gojko Kacar nodded an effort towards the back post, but with Neuer stranded for not the first time, Christoph Moritz made a superb clearance off the line.
Hamburg also had a penalty claim turned down in the 12th minute when Jonathan Pitroipa went to ground when he just as easily could have slotted into an open net. Replays showed that the decision not to award a penalty was indeed correct, because the player had made no contact with Neuer.
On the other end, Schalke only looked minimally effective. Raul played well from deep, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was all on his own in the penalty box, and rarely looked a danger. Indeed, in the first half, the greatest threat on Hamburg's goal was from a deflected cross that Frank Rost did well to parry wide of the post.
After the break, Eljero Elia threatened before Van Nistelrooy poked in a cross that Guy Demel had done very well to send in. The Ivorian had turned defender Lukas Schmitz inside out before delivering his cross to his Dutch teammate at the back post, who had the ball deflect off his hands and face and into the net.
With the pressure on Schalke to attack in order to win back a point, Hamburg played somewhat carefully, although the hosts remained absolutely flat in attack. Even the additions of Jose Jurado and Christian Pander did little for the hosts.
It was not until the 88th minute that Schalke had their first gilt-edged chance of the game, but the wide-open Schmitz missed from close range after a cross had been flicked into his path. The match was not a complete disappointment for every Schalke player, however. Julian Draxler, the hosts' 17-year old prodigy, made his competitive debut as he came on for the final seven minutes. He was unable to change the result of the match, and Hamburg held on to take three points.
The result sees Schalke remain tenth on 22 points, while Hamburg climb to 7th place, having earned 27.