Andrej Kramaric scored twice and Niklas Süle smashed home a stunner as Hoffenheim won 3-1 at Hertha Berlin on Friday to strengthen their claims for a top-three finish.
Hertha Berlin 1-3 Hoffenheim
Goals: 1-0 Pekarik (32'), 1-1 Kramaric (39' pen.), 1-2 Süle (76'), 1-3 Kramaric (86')
One place but five points separated the pair at kick-off, and fifth-placed Hertha knew victory was required if their hopes of a top-four place were to flicker into life. Hoffenheim threatened first through Kramaric and Benjamin Hübner only for Hertha to take the lead against the run of play through the unlikely source of full-back Peter Pekarik.
A Maximilian Mittelstädt handball literally handed Kramaric the opportunity to level from the spot before Julian Nagelsmann's men struck the woodwork three times in quick succession after the break. Eventually, Süle forced Destiny's hand with a stunning long-range bullet of a shot before Kramaric finished off a counter-attack to secure the points.
Man of the match
Kerem Demirbay stood out for Hoffenheim with his quality on the ball while he would have had the goal his play deserved only to be denied by a post.
With an eight-point cushion over their challengers for fourth place and having moved ahead of Borussia Dortmund and into third before Saturday's Revierderby, can Nagelsmann and his team now claim a podium finish and an automatic UEFA Champions League group stage place?
- Süle's winner was Hoffenheim's tenth Bundesliga goal from outside the box this season, a league high.Pekarik's goal was his first in the Bundesliga in his 151st top-flight appearance.Süle was playing his 100th Bundesliga game; fellow centre-back Benjamin Hübner was featuring in his 50th top-flight match.This was the first Friday night game Hertha had lost in 11.
Hertha: Jarstein - Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Mittelstädt - Stark - Esswein (Allagui 79'), Darida, Skjelbred, Kalou (Haraguchi 65') - Ibisevic (Torunarigha 63')
Coach: Pal Dardai
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Süle, Vogt, Hübner - Toljan, Zuber - Rudy - Demirbay (Polanski 90'), Amiri (Uth 62') - Kramaric (Szalai 88'), Wagner
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Watch: Süle: 'I just hit it!