Ishak Belfodil scored a brace as Hoffenheim kept their top-four hopes alive with a rampant 5-2 win away to struggling Schalke.
Schalke 2-5 Hoffenheim
Goals: 0-1 Belfodil (25’), 0-2 Kramaric (45’), 1-2 Caligiuri (pen. 60’), 1-3 Szalai (65’), 1-4 Amiri (73’), 1-5 Belfodil (80'), 2-5 Burgstaller (90')
Schalke forced the issue in the early stages as Guido Burgstaller flicked a near-post effort wide, but Hoffenheim did not look back once they got their noses in front in the 25th minute. There was a bit of luck about Belfodil’s touch to nutmeg Matija Nastasic in the build-up, but there was no mistaking his emphatic 18-yard finish. Andrej Kramaric doubled the visitors’ lead on the stroke of half time, the in-form Croatia international floating in behind the Schalke defence to collect Kerem Demirbay’s wonderfully weighted through ball before firing confidently beyond Alexander Nübel and making it two Hoffenheim goals from as many attempts on target.
To their credit, Schalke threw caution to the wind in the second half and pulled a goal back through Daniel Caligiuri's penalty after Breel Embolo had been tripped in the box. It took Hoffenheim just five minutes to restore their two-goal advantage, though, with substitute Adam Szalai heading home Belfodil’s sensational right-wing cross against his former club. Kramaric selflessly teed up Nadiem Amiri for a routine fourth, but Hoffenheim weren’t done yet. Demirbay asked the question with a probing back-post cross, and man-of-the-hour Belfodil provided the answer with a cool near-post finish. A late Burgstaller effort did little to detract from a ferocious Hoffenheim display, which propels Julian Nagelsmann's side to within two points of the top four.
- Belfodil and Kramaric have contributed 31 of Hoffenheim's 65-strike haul this season.
- Belfodil has 15 for the campaign; Kramaric is on 16 - 11 and 10 respectively in 2019.
- Szalai scored his first goal since the end of October. The Hungarian has five for the season.
- Amiri found the net in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
- Hoffenheim conceded their first goal in 311 Bundesliga minutes.
- Nagelsmann celebrated his biggest away win as Hoffenheim coach.
Schalke: Nübel – Stambouli (c), Sane, Nastasic – Mascarell (Boujellab 80') – Caligiuri, Serdar, McKennie (Harit 80'), Carls – Burgstaller, Embolo
Unused subs: Fährmann, Rudy, Matondo, Oczipka, Bruma
Out: Mendyl (not considered), Schöpf (knee), Skrzybski (muscular), Teuchert (illness), Uth (groin)
Coach: Huub Stevens
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Bicakcic, Vogt (c), Hübner (Szalai 56') – Kaderabek, Demirbay (Adams 81'), Grillitsch, Amiri, Schulz (Brenet 70') – Belfodil, Kramaric
Unused subs: Stolz, Nelson, Bittencourt, Posch
Out: Geiger (groin), Joelinton (ankle)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann