HAMBURG, November 25 (Bundesliga) - Sebastian Deisler was the hero as Bayern Munich came from behind to keep the pressure on Hamburg coach Thomas Doll.
After Rafael van der Vaart had given the home side the lead from the penalty spot in the 17th minute, the Germany midfielder sprang from the bench to turn the tide and create two goals for Bayern to claim all three points.
In the 57th minute, he picked out Roy Makaay for the equaliser while his pull-back from the goal line allowed Claudio Pizarro to seal the win for Felix Magath's side.
Both sides were involved in Champions League action this week, but Hamburg, who had the shorter trip to face Arsenal in London on Tuesday, seemed fresher than their opponents, who travelled to Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.
And it was Bayern's lack of sharpness that contributed to the 17th minute penalty.
Martin Demichelis mis-judged the bounce and, in swinging his leg for the ball, swiped the heel of Boubacar Sanogo.
The Argentine was booked, and so too was Oliver Kahn in the Bayern goal as he raced to berate referee Torsten Kinhofer after Van der Vaart dispatched the spot-kick off the inside of his post.
The home side, with former Bayern midfielder Piotr Trochowski and Van der Vaart orchestrating the action in midfield, deserved their lead and it wasn't until late in the first half that the visitors first got a glimpse of the goal.
Pizarro's shot was blocked by Bastian Reinhardt after good work from Makaay.
Deisler made his return from a lengthy injury absence at half-time, and the game was turned on its head as a result.
Just 12 minutes in, he beat Timothee Atouba and Trochowski before threading the ball through to Makaay, who needed just one touch to poke the ball past Stefan Wachter from close range.
Some more Deisler brilliance almost brought the second goal shortly afterwards but his shot missed Wachter's post by inches.
After Makaay's shot was tipped behind unwittingly by the face of Wachter, Deisler provided the corner for Mark van Bommel, Hasan Salihamidzic and Makaay to all cause danger in a crowded penalty area, but the ball would not cross the line.
It did with just over ten minutes to go, however, and again it was Deisler behind it.
He used his vision to pick out Pizarro when Makaay was screaming for the ball square, pulling the ball back for the Peruvian to place right-footed past Wachter.
Hamburg, as has happened all too often this season, lost all of their confidence and Bayern were able to hold onto their lead without any problems to move up to third and remain just three points behind leaders Schalke.