Hamburg shattered by Fulham defeat

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The Independent Online

Hamburg chairman Bernd Hoffmann struggled to find the words to express his disappointment after his side lost their Europa League semi-final against Fulham last night.

The Bundesliga side fell at the final hurdle on the way to what they had hoped would be a dream final inside their own HSV-Arena home, going down 2-1 at Craven Cottage.

"We have been dreaming about playing in the final in our own stadium for two years, and that has been shattered just 20 minutes from its realisation," he told German television channel Sat.1.

"That is really bitter."

Hamburg now risk missing out on European football altogether next season having placed all their eggs in the Europa League basket at the expense of their Bundesliga campaign, slipping to seventh in the table.

With two games of the season remaining, they need an unlikely combination of results to still clinch sixth spot, and Hoffmann was being realistic.

"This is new to us," he said. "But Schalke, Dortmund and Leverkusen have all had to go through a season without European football.

"But this is a sporting disappointment that we have all got to take; it's bitter for every HSV fan."

Hoffmann is taking the most criticism just days after sacking coach Bruno Labbadia.

He has been made the scapegoat for the club's recent demise and, once again last night, there were calls for him to be removed from power.

"That is not pretty, but they are emotions which have got to be released," he said.

"Everybody who has had their nerves tested with HSV is feeling the same frustration so I won't read too much into them (the calls).

"This club has undergone an excellent development and it is no longer the club it was seven years ago.

"The question (of stepping down) does not even present itself. I am enjoying my work, but of course we have got to ask ourselves questions.

"It is certainly bitter - the bitterest moment since I have been working in sport."

Hamburg face Nurnberg tomorrow needing to bounce back immediately from their disappointment in London last night while hoping that Stuttgart fail to pick up more than a draw against Mainz.

Only then can they still harbour any ambition of snatching the final qualifying berth for the Europa League on the final day of the season.

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