Bayer 04 Leverkusen edged into the UEFA Cup quarter-finals despite losing 3-2 to Bundesliga rivals Hamburger SV in a thrilling second leg at the Arena Hamburg.
Leading 1-0 from the home leg, Leverkusen twice went ahead in northern Germany through Sergej Barbarez and Theofanis Gekas, only to see Hamburg equalise with strikes from Piotr Trochowski and José Paolo Guerrero. Rafael van der Vaart gave the hosts the lead for the first time in the 80th minute, but Leverkusen held on to progress on away goals and keep alive their hopes of adding a second title to their 1987/88 triumph.
Despite rainy conditions, the encounter started at a fast pace. Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost denied Gekas from close range in the sixth minute, before his opposite number René Adler kept out Guerrero then watched Van der Vaart's excellent opportunity go wide. It was the visitors, though, who struck first on 18 minutes, as Barbarez, a Hamburg player for six years before joining Leverkusen in summer 2006, deviated Tranquillo Barnetta's free-kick past Rost.
Van der Vaart missed another excellent chance from two metres out as Hamburg pressed for an equaliser. It eventually arrived eight minutes into the second period, Trochowski collecting a poor clearance and striking a well-placed shot inside the right post from outside the box. The game continued to fluctuate and Leverkusen regained the lead just two minutes later. Gekas, who had already scored in the first leg, made it 2-1, running on to a long ball from Hans Sarpei and beating Rost via the right-hand post.
Huub Stevens' men levelled again in the 65th minute, Guy Demel sending a cross to Guerrero, who controlled the ball, turned and blasted into the far left corner. With the home fans willing their team on, Van der Vaart finally grabbed his goal, slotting in Guerrero's cross, to set up a rousing finale. Hamburg poured forward in the dying minutes but Leverkusen stood firm to ensure their presence in Friday's draw.