BERLIN — Eintracht Frankfurt's hopes of European football took a knock Sunday in a 2-1 defeat at home to Freiburg, the club's fourth straight Bundesliga loss.
Two goals from Florian Niederlechner propelled Freiburg to eighth and left Frankfurt vulnerable in sixth place with 11 games remaining. Frankfurt was third after the 19th round before its losing streak began.
"It's crazy what setbacks we've had to take," Frankfurt sporting director Bruno Huebner said. "The team played a good game. Such a result is of course a setback."
Branimir Hrgota fired the home side into an early lead, but Niederlechner rounded the goalkeeper to equalize.
Ante Rebbe thought he'd put Frankfurt ahead again. However, the goal was ruled out with Mijat Gacinovic adjudged to have impeded goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow.
Frankfurt was to rue the decision when Niederlechner scored again before the hour-mark thanks to brilliant interplay between Vincenzo Grifo and Mike Frantz. TV replays suggested he was offside for Grifo's through ball.
"He didn't do it on purpose," Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac said of referee Guenter Perl's performance. "But I have the feeling a bit that we're Eintracht Frankfurt, with lots of yellow and red cards, so we get decisions against us at times."
Substitute Alexander Meier might have equalized as Frankfurt pushed hard late on only to be denied by a fine stop from Schwolow.
Frankfurt captain Makoto Hasebe played his 235th Bundesliga game, overtaking Yasuhiko Okudera (234 appearances for Cologne and Werder Bremen in the first division between 1977-86) as the league's most capped Japanese player. Okudera also played a season for Hertha Berlin in the second division.
HAMBURGER SV 1, HERTHA BERLIN 0
Albin Ekdal's late strike was enough for Hamburg to boost its chances of avoiding the drop with its sixth win of the season.
"Perhaps they were a tick more aggressive but, still, it hurts," said Hertha coach Pal Dardai, whose side missed the chance to consolidate fifth place.
Hamburg's Lewis Holtby and Nicolai Mueller missed chances in the first half.
Aaron Hunt crossed for Ekdal to claim the winner with more than 10 minutes remaining as Hamburg stayed in the relegation zone but moved level on points with 15th-placed Wolfsburg.