In an encounter bereft of regular highlights, a quick-fire double, when Mathieu Delpierre's own-goal was immediately cancelled out by Fabian Johnson's solo effort, looked to have given each side a share of the spoils. However, an 82nd-minute header from Sejad Salihovic, his first ever in the Bundesliga, and a Daniel Williams tap-in were enough to secure all three points for the ailing hosts and end the Reds' unbeaten start to the season.
Hoffenheim began the match like a team with something to prove and, while Hannover were content breaking forward on the counter, it was the hosts who established an early control on proceedings. Spanish striker Joselu, making his debut in 1899's starting line-up, looked lively during the opening exchanges, but could only fire wide of the target with an overhead kick after quarter of an hour.
Hoffenheim's performance was much-improved so going behind to a Hannover side who hadn't had a shot on goal could have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Konstantin Rausch found space on the left to whip in a devious delivery which Delpierre promptly headed past Koen Casteels, deputising for the injured Tim Wiese, and into his own net.
Hoffenheim hit back
However, the Sinsheim side refused to let their heads drop and struck back immediately when Johnson burst into the box past Steven Cherundolo before clipping the ball beyond Ron-Robert Zieler from a tight angle. Hoffenheim were still playing the role of pace-setters in the build-up to half-time, but for the most part there was little between the sides, as both teams proved complacent in possession and short of ideas in the final third.
After a stale first 45 minutes the second half got off to a brighter start with the hosts putting Hannover under increasing pressure as they sought to take the lead for the first time in the match. Sebastian Rudy's curling free-kick looked destined for the top corner until Zieler got the all-important touch to tip it over the bar, before Takashi Usami volleyed off target with time and space on the edge of the box.
Didier Ya Konan, who replaced the injured Artur Sobiech during the first-half, came closest to a response for the Reds when he flashed an effort across goal with Hannover's first shot on goal in the entire encounter. The visitors' usual rhythm and verve was absent in their performance and Hoffenheim tried to capitalise with little or no success. Joselu squandered the best chances by lingering in possession with the goal at his mercy, before failing to head the ball past Zieler after a mix-up between the 'keeper and Mario Eggimann.
The Spaniard was replaced by Eren Derdiyok, who almost turned into a super-sub only for the Reds' goalkeeper to claw his effort from Andreas Beck's pull-back around the post. However, having looked like the only side capable of adding to the scoreline, Hoffenheim finally took the lead when Salihovic headed home from Kevin Volland's cross despite Zieler's best efforts to prevent it crossing the line. It was then left to Williams to wrap up the win when Volland bundled his way through the Reds backline to put the chance on a plate for the United States of America international in the dying moments.
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