An Ihlas Bebou strike and a late Christoph Baumgartner goal paved the way for Hoffenheim's 2-0 win at Union Berlin on Tuesday as Albert Schreuder's side gave themselves a pre-Christmas confidence boost.
Union Berlin 0-2 Hoffenheim
Goals: 0-1 Bebou (56'), 0-2 Baumgartner (90+1')
Hoffenheim travelled to the capital in low spirits, and the visitors' fragile self-belief could have — probably should have — been dealt a major blow early on. Marcus Ingvartsen, who scored in Union's draw at Paderborn at the weekend, scuttled down the left and provided a cross Anthony Ujah reached before Oliver Baumann, but the ball skidded off his boot and across goal. Robert Skov — playing at left wing-back again — tested Rafal Gikiewicz from range with a free-kick as Hoffenheim sought to muster a credible goal threat. They found one, and Gikiewicz should have been picking the ball out of his net before the break: Andrej Kramaric will still be wondering how he shot over the crossbar with only the Polish goalkeeper to beat after being played through by Bebou.
The latter took matters into his own hands to give the visitors the lead before the hour mark, though his shot might not have found the net had it not looped up and over Gikiewicz thanks to a handy ricochet off Christopher Lenz. Benjamin Hübner denied Ujah a clear sight of goal with a timely block as the hosts, who had been in much better form than their guests, sought a leveller to claim something from their final home game of 2019. They might have had it, but Christian Gentner fired wastefully wide and Baumann produced a world-class save to somehow deny top scorer Sebastian Andersson. Baumgartner came off the bench five minutes from time, and slotted home after an incisive run from another substitute, Havard Nordtveit, to seal the win as Hoffenheim recorded their first clean sheet since early November.
- It was Bebou's third Bundesliga goal of the season. He is one behind Hoffenheim's joint-leading scorers Kramaric and Jürgen Locadia.
- His strike ended 443 minutes without conceding at home for Union.
- Baumgartner's goal was his maiden first-team goal for Hoffenheim.
- This was Hoffenheim's first league win in five games. They had won five in a row - six including the DFB Cup second-round victory at Duisburg - between 5 October and 8 November.
- This was only Union's second loss in their last seven league games, four of which have ended in wins.
- Hoffenheim's Benjamin Hübner has emerged victorious in six of the nine Bundesliga games in which he has played this season. This latest came at the expense of younger brother Florian.
Union: Gikiewicz - Friedrich, Hübner, Subotic (Abdullahi 80') - Trimmel (c), Gentner, Andrich, Lenz - Ingvartsen (Polter 68'), Ujah (Bülter 68') - Andersson
Unused subs: Nicolas, Ryerson, Mets, Reichel, Schmiedebach, Parensen
Out: Gogia (torn ACL), Schlotterbeck (knee), Prömel (knee)
Coach: Urs Fischer
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Kaderabek (Bicakcic 64'), Posch, Hübner (c), Skov - Grillitsch - Bebou, Rudy, Samassekou (Nordtveit 60'), Adamyan (Baumgartner 85') - Kramaric
Unused subs: Pentke, Stafylidis, Geiger, Akpoguma, Lucas Ribeiro, Locadia
Out: Belfodil (knee)
Coach: Alfred Schreuder