Goals: 1-0 Gnabry (18’), 2-0 Szalai (27’)
Julian Nagelsmann had promised his side would attack this desperate Hamburg side, and the hosts did not disappoint. They thought they had already taken the lead inside 10 minutes with Benjamin Hübner’s well-taken long-range effort beat Julian Pollersbeck in goal, but it was ruled out by VAR with Gnabry standing in an offside position. However, the Bayern Munich loanee made amends only minutes later when he danced through the HSV defence to poke home his ninth goal of the season. The visiting defence was again torn open by Nico Schulz’s run from the left before he cut back for Adam Szalai to tap in and double the lead. It could have been three to the hosts before half-time if not for the frame of the goal. Pollersbeck did well to tip a Hübner header onto the bar before Szalai tried to fire home the rebound from a narrow angle, but again the woodwork stood in the way.
Gnabry again looked to impress in the second half with Germany boss Joachim Löw watching on from the stands, and the forward came close to a second within minutes of the restart as he fired into the side-netting following a through-ball from Florian Grillitsch. Hamburg knew they had nothing to lose, but even after the introduction of young striker Fiete Arp they failed to make their superior possession count as Hoffenheim waited to pick them off on the break. Kevin Akpoguma looked to have put the result beyond doubt with 15 minutes remaining, but Hoffenheim had a goal ruled out for offside for the second time in the game. Correct interventions by the referee the only thing keeping Hamburg’s defeat down to two goals.
Watch: Meet Serge Gnabry, the player cooking up a storm at Hoffenheim!
- Gnabry has scored in three successive Bundesliga games for the first time in his career.
- He now has nine to his name and seven since the winter break – only Robert Lewandowski has more (11).
- Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last seven Bundesliga matches - the best current run in the division.
- Hamburg are now eight points adrift of safety. The Red Shorts are the only team to have played every Bundesliga season since the league's inception in 1963.
- Aaron Hunt made his 300th Bundesliga appearance but failed to add to his total of six goals against Hoffenheim, which is more than he has against any other club.
- HSV failed to score for the first time in four games under Christian Titz since he replaced Bernd Hollerbach as coach. Lewis Holtby has scored two of the Bundesliga ever-presents' five goals in the period, having been without a goal since last August.
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Nordtveit, Vogt (c), Hübner – Kaderabek, Amiri (Demirbay 78'), Grillitsch (Rupp 70'), Schulz – Kramaric, Gnabry (Akpoguma 58') – Szalai
Unused subs: Kobel, Polanski, Zuber, Zulj
Absentees: Geiger (thigh), Uth (suspended)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Hamburg: Pollersbeck – Sakai (c), Jung, Van Drongelen (Salihovic 76'), Douglas – Steinmann (Ekdal 33') – Ito, Holtby, Hunt, Kostic – Waldschmidt (Arp 63')
Unused subs: Mathenia, Ambrosius, Jatta, Vagnoman
Absentees: Papadopoulos (suspended), Mavraj and Walace (not considered), Müller (ankle), Schipplock (pulled muscle)
Coach: Christian Titz