Eugen Polanski (l.) scored against his former club as Hoffenheim edged out Mainz at the WIRSOL Rhein Neckar Arena
Eugen Polanski (l.) scored against his former club as Hoffenheim edged out Mainz at the WIRSOL Rhein Neckar Arena

Wins for Hoffenheim and Hertha; Hannover hold Stuttgart

Cologne - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin both picked up hugely important wins on Saturday afternoon, but there was no separating Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart in Matchday 23's big basement battle in Lower Saxony.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-0 1. FSV Mainz 05 rounds up the action from around the grounds...

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim picked up their first home win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 since gaining promotion to the top flight in 2008, prevailing 2-0 at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar Arena.

After a entertaining first half, Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino made the most of a fortunate ricochet to play in Kevin Volland for the first goal, before Eugen Polanski’s bullet header condemned Martin Schmidt to his first defeat as Mainz head coach.

Second-half show

The two sides had shared an uneventful goalless draw back on Matchday 6, but chances came thick and fast from almost the first minute in Sinsheim. Shinji Okazaki was a constant menace for the visitors, setting up Yunus Malli and Christian Clemens to narrowly miss the target, while Loris Karius saved well from an Andreas Beck header and Sejad Salihovic’s rising drive.

Clemens spurned a great opportunity to open the scoring just after the break, and it proved a costly miss as the home side seized the initiative. Firmino seized on a loose ball to power through and set up Volland, before a powerful header from Polanski against his former club made sure of the points.

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Hertha Berlin 1-0 FC Augsburg

Hertha Berlin snatched a last-gasp victory over FC Augsburg with Salomon Kalou on target in a 1-0 win at the Olympiastadion.

In a game of few chances, the Ivorian international struck late to give Pal Dardai his second league win as head coach.

Hertha leave it late

Augsburg picked up the early possession, but the hosts did not seem too concerned as they carved out a good opening on the counter-attack with Roy Beerens crossing for Kalou, who only just failed to get his head to the ball. The visitors had two good chances in the first half, with Raul Bobadilla and Caiuby fluffing their lines.

It was a similar story in the second half with neither goalkeeper really being tested, until the dying stages. Just as it seemed like both sides were going to settle for a point, Jens Hegeler put Kalou through and the Cote d'Ivoire forward netted his first goal of 2015, beating Hitz with a cool finish. Hitz, who scored a dramatic late equaliser a week ago, raced forward for a stoppage time corner, but there was to be no repeat this time as Augsburg were beaten.

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Hannover 96 1-1 VfB Stuttgart

Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart picked up the result neither of them really wanted in a 1-1 draw at the HDI-Arena.

Christian Gentner gave the visitors the lead, but the hosts hit back through Lars Stindl, who saw a red card late on together with Martin Harnik, as frustration got the better of both teams.

Late drama

Given their precarious situation and recent results, Stuttgart were unsurprisingly reticent to begin with, allowing Hannover much of the ball. Georg Niedermeier cleared the first spot of danger with a great sliding tackle to deny Joselu an opportunity early on, but the Stuttgart defender lost out later, this time with Joselu failing to take his chance as he lobbed over. Stuttgart did have a few good chances of their own, with Gentner's effort deflected over and Alexandru Maxim having a shot blocked, before Stindl missed a one-on-one with Sven Ulreich.

Stuttgart put the Hannover defence under pressure in the second half, and took a deserved lead when Gentner drove home after the hosts had failed to clear their lines. The Stuttgart captain was leading by example, but it was his Hannover counterpart Stindl who brought Hannover level, producing a composed finish past Ulreich from Joselu's header. Joselu went close to a winner, but the game ended on a sour note when Harnik and Stindl were sent off following a needless altercation.

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