Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach won nine straight Bundesliga crowns between them from 1968/69 onwards, but by the early ‘80s the Bavarian heavyweights were part of a new duopoly monopolising German football. Rivalling them were Hamburg, who were in the midst of the most successful spell in their history – one in which they would win three league titles, achieve six successive top-two finishes, lift the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and finish European Cup runners up in 1980 and winners three years later.
Naturally, clashes between the pair were hugely anticipated – high among them the one that unfolded thirty years ago to this Tuesday. Hamburg had been crowned champions in 1979, before being pipped to the title by Bayern the following two seasons. Now HSV held a four-point lead over the men from Munich heading into Round 29 of 34.
Many expected a tight game, but the scoreboard had already flashed thrice before the break. And though headed goals are rarely spectacular, Bayern’s deadlock-breaker was certainly a seldom exception, with Dieter Hoeness making a towering leap and generating so much power on his effort that, despite being 12 yards out, Hamburg goalkeeper Uli Stein didn’t even move as the ball whizzed past him and into his net. Ernst Happel's side restored parity just past the half-hour, when a delightful Ditmar Jakobs cross was thunderously headed home by Jimmy Hartwig, but Bayern had the final say of the first 45 minutes. Defender Udo Horsmann unusually found himself racing on to a long ball forward, before gliding between two opponents and volleying the ball into the bottom corner. It was a move any attacker would have been proud of, and it delivered the hosts a goal less than three seconds after the ball was in their own half!
With Breitner pulling the strings, Bayern began the second half on the front foot, and they made it 3-1 on 64 minutes thanks largely to a mistake from Stein, who somehow believed a tame header from Hoeness was going wide and let it creep into his bottom-left corner. “Uli thought the ball was going off target - I think Jimmy Hartwig shouted at him to leave it,” explained Sepp Maier.
With 20 minutes remaining, the majority of the 78,000 inside the Olympiastadion were in vociferous mood as Pal Csernai's team seemingly cruised towards slashing their opponents’ lead to just two points. But 20-year-old midfielder Thomas von Heesen ended the relaxation in emphatic fashion, carrying the ball from just ten yards outside his own box to the edge of the Bayern penalty area and slotting it past Bayern’s Hamburg-born goalkeeper Walter Junghans to halve the deficit. And on 76 minutes, HSV equalised. Horst Hrubesch played a one-two with Lars Bastrup - the Dane with whom he enjoyed a wonderful tandem - and fired the ball home under pressure.
And 3-3 is how a pulsating game decorated by wonder goals appeared set to finish as the game entered injury time, but Hamburg grabbed themselves one last chance when Hrubesch bullied his way on to a hopeful punt forward and won a free-kick off Hans Weiner. Magath delivered it to the back post with pinpoint accuracy, and Hrubesch soared between two Bayern defenders to powerfully head home the winner. From the jaws of defeat, Hamburg had snatched a victory that sent them seven points clear of the defending champions en route to the title.
HSV wouldn’t beat Bayern in Munich for another 24 years, but the supporters who witnessed the fightback of 24 April 1982 will remember it for a great deal longer.