Ruud van Nistelrooy scored on his first start for Hamburger SV as they beat RSC Anderlecht 3-1 in the opening leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.
Joris Mathijsen had given HSV a 23rd-minute lead – the German side's 400th UEFA club competition goal – and the hosts looked well set when Van Nistelrooy made it two. Jonathan Legear reduced the arrears, but heavy home pressure led to David Jarolím restoring a two-goal cushion Bruno Labbadia's side will take to Brussels next week.
Much of the build-up was devoted to Anderlecht's 16-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku and he presented a source of irritation to Hamburg early on, testing Frank Rost after one bullish run. Van Nistelrooy was a peripheral figure initially, although the home fans certainly made it known he was playing, booming out "Ruud" on each of his touches.
An opening presented midway through the first half, only for Silvio Proto to deny the 33-year-old. From the resulting corner, HSV took the lead and it was a Dutchman who broke the deadlock – but not Van Nistelrooy. The set piece was cleared to Dennis Aogo whose first-time volley ricocheted off two Anderlecht players and fell kindly for Mathijsen. The centre-back composed himself and slotted past Proto.
Mladen Petrić then went close for the hosts and, at the other end, Kanu had two bites at the cherry but could not find the telling touch. Van Nistelrooy was not to be denied, though. He struck five minutes before the break in typically opportunistic fashion, stabbing in from a tight angle after Eljero Elia slipped him in.
HSV looked in control but were rocked in first-half added time when Mathijsen fouled Lucas Biglia and Legear curled in a wonderful free-kick from 30 metres – his sixth goal of the campaign. Proto had to be at his best to deny Petrić and Rost required similar expertise to beat away Biglia's effort. HSV then stepped up a gear and Jarolím crashed in a low volley from the edge of the area after Guillaume Gillet could only half clear.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.