No fanfare for Rafael as Hamburg lose in Frankfurt
Rafael van der Vaart (C) looks on as teammate Petr Jiracek (R) discusses with referee Wolfgang Stark
Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart lost on his first appearance back in the Bundesliga with Hamburg on Sunday as his 10-man team went down 3-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt.
The three points puts Frankfurt second in the table behind leaders Bayern Munich, but having returned to Hamburg from Tottenham Hotspur last month for 13 million euros (US$14m), Hamburg are second from bottom after three defeats.
“If you play with fear, you concede goals,” said Van der Vaart, who sank to his knees at the final whistle.
“In the first 20 minutes, we played very badly. We improved after we let in the first goal, but we really have to work hard. We will get through this together.”
Hosts Frankfurt raced into a 2-0 lead after only 18 minutes as first Japan midfielder Takashi Inui, then Canadian striker Olivier Occean scored for Eintracht at the Frankfurter Arena.
Hamburg pulled a goal back through defender Heiko Westermann, but the guests were reduced to 10 men when Petr Jiracek was shown a straight red at the end f of the first-half for a heavy challenge on Brazilian defender Anderson.
Frankfurt pulled further ahead when Stefan Aigner made it 3-1 with 52 minutes played before Van der Vaart set up South Korea’s Son Heung-Min to score on 63 minutes to make the scoreline respectable.
Earlier, Hoffenheim crashed to their third league defeat of the season despite coming from behind twice in losing 5-3 at Freiburg with the hosts scoring twice in a dramatic last 10 minutes.
Midfielder Max Kruse was Freiburg’s star after scoring his team’s second goal, then creating two more to pile more pressure on Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel whose team are rock bottom of the Bundesliga.
With the score locked at 3-all going into the last ten minutes Freiburg scored twice as first Cedrick Makiadi slotted home on 83 minutes, then striker Sebastian Fries netted the fifth on 87 minutes to give his team three points.
On Saturday, Bayern Munich maintained their perfect start to the season when their 3-1 home win over Mainz gave them a third win in three league matches.
Munich won without Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben after they both picked up thigh injuries in the final training session, while new signing Javier Martinez only came off the bench for the final 15 minutes.
Schalke 04 went fourth with a 2-0 win at Greuther Fuerth, thanks to goals from teenager Julian Draxler, who turns 19 on Thursday, and midfielder Lewis Holtby.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in the stands to watch Fuerth play, having been born in the north Bavarian town before his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in 1938.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was at Borussia Dortmund to watch the defending champions enjoy a convincing 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen to move up from sixth place to fifth at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park.
Hanover are third after a dramatic 3-2 win over Werder Bremen at home in the north German derby with midfielder Szabolcs Huszti scoring the winner in the 92nd minute, but his shirtless celebration saw him sent off.
Japan midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake is making a name for himself in Nuremberg after scoring a 55nd-minute winner in his team’s 3-2 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach to put his team sixth.
Stuttgart were held to a goalless draw at home to Fortuna Duesseldorf and on Friday, Wolfsburg were also held to a goalless draw by Augsburg.