Hamburger SV captain David Jarolím warned his side to expect "hell" next Thursday when they travel to Belgium for the second time in three weeks looking to defend a precarious 2-1 lead against R. Standard de Liège.
"I am happy with our performance but not the result" was the 30-year-old's succinct appraisal of a match that had an incredible 29 shots on target, 19 from the home side. Goals late on in the first half from Mladen Petrić, a penalty, and Ruud van Nistelrooy cancelled out Dieudonné Mbokani's opener and ultimately earned Hamburg a slender advantage in this UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie.
Yet Van Nistelrooy also hit the upright and countless other opportunities went begging, particularly after a frenetic finale which left Jarolím with a tinge of regret. "We played well, were the better team overall and had more than enough chances to score a third goal in second half," he rued. "Also, we wanted to keep a clean sheet but now, once again, we have conceded at home. We will have to be very careful in the second leg."
That caution is well founded. In the last round HSV took a three-goal advantage to RCD Anderlecht, Standard's great domestic rivals, and were given the fright of their lives. With 15 minutes remaining a two-goal advantage had dwindled to an away-goals one, before Petrić calmed what was left of the visitors' frayed nerves. Once bitten, Jarolím is twice shy: "
It was always going to be a very tight, tough game in Liege – now it will be like in hell."
"It will be a special atmosphere, as it was at Anderlecht," added the midfielder, who will hope to attract as much of the ball as he did in the first half in Hamburg when the two sides reconvene. "It will be a very, very difficult game.
I think our chances of reaching the semi-finals are 50-50, but we will give everything to come through." With the final at the Hamburg Arena on 12 May he has extra motivation – not that he needs it.
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