Hoffenheim maintained their European push with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hannover thanks to goals from Joelinton, Ishak Belfodil and Kerem Demirbay.
Hoffenheim 3-0 Hannover
Goals: 1-0 Joelinton (4'), 2-0 Belfodil (14'), 3-0 Demirbay (80')
Julian Nagelsmann’s side got off to the perfect start when Julian Korb failed to deal with a long ball, allowing Joelinton to sneak in and slot the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Michael Esser inside four minutes. The lead was quickly doubled when Belfodil, who scored a brace from the bench in last week’s comeback draw at Borussia Dortmund, flicked on a Demirbay free-kick into the far corner with the back of his neck. Demirbay then almost got one of his own late in the half when he crashed a loose ball against the crossbar from 20 yards. Bar a Kevin Wimmer attempt at the far post from a corner, Hannover rarely threatened the home goal.
Hoffenheim restarted the game with the same intent as the first half and had a number of chances to wrap up the three points early. First Belfodil had a header at the far post clawed back off the line by Esser, then Nico Schulz saw a lob hit the crossbar – the 15th time the Sinsheim club had been denied by the woodwork this season – before Nadiem Amiri had a close-range follow-up blocked. Schulz again had a chance when one-on-one with Esser but was denied on the edge of the box before Joelinton blazed the rebound over as he tried to beat the covering men on the line. More opportunities fell for Demirbay and Andrej Kramaric before the former finally curled home his fourth goal of the season from the edge of the area to rub further salt in the Hannover wounds.
Watch: Ishak Belfodil "happy" with Hoffenheim's form
- Joelinton’s goal was only Hoffenheim’s second-quickest of the season. They’d scored inside the opening minute at Hertha Berlin on Matchday 12.
- The striker has six Bundesliga goals to his name this season, making him the top scorer among the league’s 13 Brazilians.
- Belfodil has scored in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- Demirbay netted his fourth goal of the season but was denied by the woodwork twice, taking Hoffenheim’s total for hitting the frame of the goal up to a league-high 16.
- TSG kept just their third clean sheet in their 30th competitive match of 2018/19.
- Hoffenheim ended a five-match winless run at home, while Hannover have not won away since October 2017.
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Adams, Vogt (c), Posch – Kaderabek, Demirbay, Amiri, Schulz – Kramaric (Szalai 79’), Belfodil (Otto 85'), Joelinton (Bittencourt 74’)
Unused subs: Stolz, Brenet, Nelson, Baumgartner
Out: Adams (thigh), Bicakcic (calf), Hübner, Rupp (both knee), Ribeiro (South American U20 Championship)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Hannover: Esser – Korb, Anton (c), Wimmer, Ostrzolek – Felipe, Walace (Schwegler 67’), Bakalorz (Asano 46’) – Müller, Jonathas (Wood 67’), Haraguchi
Unused subs: Sahin-Radlinger, Albornoz, Sorg, Weydandt
Out: Akpoguma (dislocated shoulder), Bebou (thigh), Füllkrug (knee), Hübers (knee), Maina (knee), Sarenren Bazee (shin)
Coach: Thomas Doll