Sinsheim - FC Schalke 04’s domestic inconsistency struck again during a 2-1 loss in Sinsheim to in-form TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, who maintained their unbeaten run in the league.
Szalai hits Schalke where it hurts
After an excellent Revierderby victory over Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 6, Jens Keller’s Schalke side were aiming to build on that success and climb the table. Those aims were dealt a blow early by a hard-running Hoffenheim team that dominated the opening exchanges, culminating in Tarik Elyounoussi’s 13th-minute opener, brilliantly created by Kevin Volland and Roberto Firmino.
While both sides traded opportunities, it was always the hosts who looked to have more of a cutting edge, as demonstrated when former Schalke forward Adam Szalai found the net after Firmino capitalised on a loose ball in midfield. Julian Draxler and Atsuto Uchida led Schalke’s response before the break, but Hoffenheim’s deep-lying defence never looked as troubled as their visitors’ at the other end.
Schalke’s tentative attempts at reducing the deficit after half-time were always menaced by the threat of the Hoffenheim counter, Firmino almost adding a goal to his two assists in the 53rd minute, although the entrance of Tranquillo Barnetta from the Schalke bench gave Keller’s side more possession and creativity. The Swiss international was key in the visitors’ attempts to find a goal, but when Joel Matip received his marching orders in the 75th minute, the game was nearly up. Despite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s 83rd-minute header reducing the arrears, it was never going to be enough to dent Hoffenheim’s unbeaten record.
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