Andrej Kramaric became Hoffenheim's joint-record Bundesliga goalscorer, but VfB Stuttgart's Steven Zuber grabbed the equaliser against his parent club in an entertaining south-west derby at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Saturday.
Goals: 0-1 Kramaric (42'), 1-1 Zuber (66')
An open first half produced chances at both ends as Alexander Esswein tested Oliver Baumann and Stefan Posch cleared a Kramaric strike off the line inside 15 minutes. Kramaric tickled the side netting and Kerem Demirbay sent a free-kick narrowly over, before former Hoffenheim defender Andreas Beck headed against the inside of Baumann’s inside-post following a corner. It proved an agonising passage of play for the relegation-threatened Schwaben, with Kramaric sweeping past the despairing dive of Ron-Robert Zieler just moments later to tie Sejad Salihovic as Hoffenheim’s all-time leading Bundesliga marksman on 46 goals.
Hoffenheim went within a whisker of a second early in the second half when Pavel Kaderabek headed a Demirbay cross onto a post. The visitors lost Joelinton to injury just past the hour mark, but continued to find joy in the final third as Demirbay curled wide after latching onto an audacious Kramaric back-heel. Julian Nagelsmann's side had kept only three sheets all season, however, and Stuttgart duly equalised through Zuber's composed finish from Beck's cut-back. Substitute Daniel Didavi had a shot blocked as Stuttgart pressed for a winner, but Hoffenheim held on for a result that does more for the hosts' survival hopes than it does their own top-six ambitions.
- Stuttgart remain in the relegation play-off spot, albeit six points clear of the automatic drop zone and three behind outright safety.
- Hoffenheim are four points adrift of the European places with eight rounds of fixtures still to play.
- Kramaric's opener was Hoffenheim's 50th goal of the Bundesliga season. The Croatian has hit 46 goals and 22 assists in 105 Bundesliga appearances to date.
- Zuber has scored a career-best five times this season - all since joining Stuttgart from Hoffenheim during the winter transfer window.
- Hoffenheim's Arsenal-owned forward Reiss Nelson made his 17th Bundesliga appearance, and 13th as a substitute.
- Hoffenheim have scored in all but one of their 26 league assignments so far in 2018/19.
Stuttgart: Zieler – Beck, Kabak, Pavard, Kempf, Insua – Esswein (Didavi 77'), Ascacibar, Castro, Zuber (Gentner 85') – Gomez (c) (Gonzalez 54')
Unused subs: Grahl, Aogo, Baumgartl, Thommy
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Bicakcic, Vogt (c), Posch – Kaderabek, Grillitsch, Demirbay (Bittencourt 85'), Schulz (Nelson 85') – Kramaric – Belfodil, Joelinton (Szalai 64')
Unused subs: Stolz, Brenet, Amiri, Hübner
Out: Adams (suspended), Geiger (groin)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Watch: Kramaric reacts to becoming Hoffenheim's all-time leading scorer