Second-half goals from Andrej Kramaric and Ihlas Bebou saw Hoffenheim beat Schalke 2-0 at the PreZero Arena and deny the Royal Blues the chance to move top of the Bundesliga table.
Hoffenheim 2-0 Schalke
Goals: 1-0 Kramaric (72'), 2-0 Bebou (85')
David Wagner’s side approached the game like a team ready to take on the Bundesliga summit. Daniel Caligiuri smashed a free-kick from some 25 yards against the corner of the goalframe with just three minutes on the clock before setting up Alessandro Schöpf with another threatening set piece shortly after. The Austria international was unable to convert on the stretch but continued to pose the greatest danger to the Hoffenheim goal, heading over from close range and then dragging an effort wide on the turn from the edge of the box as he took four of Schalke’s seven shots in the opening 30 minutes. Only after that point did the hosts look like threatening when Stefan Posch fired an effort across goal narrowly wide and Dennis Geiger hit a rising shot over the bar, but it somehow remained goalless after 45 minutes in Sinsheim.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Schalke producing most of the play at the PreZero Arena. Yet apart from an Oliver Baumann spill in the Hoffenheim goal, there was little threat to either net. That all changed with 20 minutes remaining, however, when Ihlas Bebou raced through the middle past two Schalke defenders only to be denied by a strong hand from the diving Alexander Nübel, but Kramaric was completely free in the box to smash home the rebound on his first appearance of the season with his first shot. Bebou then got one himself to wrap up the three points, latching onto a long ball and beating his man again before firing past Nübel at his near post. Hoffenheim have now won back-to-back league games under Alfred Schreuder for the first time, while Schalke missed out on first place for the second matchday in a row.
- Making his first appearance of the season, Kramaric has now scored a goal in each of his last four Bundesliga games against Schalke.
- Despite missing the first seven matchdays of this season, Kramaric has scored 12 Bundesliga goals this calendar year, behind only Kai Havertz, Wout Weghorst and Robert Lewandowski.
- Bebou came on at half-time for his 50th Bundesliga appearance, of which 42 came for Hannover. Ten of his 11 Bundesliga goals have been scored at home.
- Hoffenheim have scored in each of their last eight matches against Schalke and have, in fact, never lost after scoring first (W8, D2).
- The defeat ended Schalke’s eight-match unbeaten run away from home in the Bundesliga.
- The Royal Blues have still only won one of their 12 Bundesliga visits to Sinsheim, winning 4-1 on the final day of 2015/16.
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Hoffenheim: Baumann – Posch (Bicakcic 76'), Akpoguma, Hübner, Skov – Vogt (c) – Kaderabek, Rudy, Geiger (Bebou 46'), Kramaric - Adamyan (Rupp 62')
Unused subs: Pentke, Brenet, Stafylidis, Baumgartner, Zulj, Locadia
Out: Belfodil (knee), Nordtveit (rib), Ochs (ankle), Samassekou (hamstring), Zuber (foot), Grillitsch (ligament)
Coach: Alfred Schreuder
Schalke: Nübel (c) – Kenny (Kabak 86'), Stambouli, Sane, Oczipka – Mascarell – Caligiuri (Kutucu 78'), Harit, Schöpf – Burgstaller, Matondo (Uth 57')
Unused subs: Schubert, Miranda, Nastasic, Raman, Boujellab, Mercan
Out: Bentaleb (groin), McKennie, Serdar, (both with muscular strains)
Coach: David Wagner