Hoffenheim striker Andrej Kramaric scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Hannover on Friday to boost his side's chances of sealing a top-four finish.
Hoffenheim 3-1 Hannover
Goals: 1-0 Kramaric (16'), 1-1 Karaman (24'), 2-1 Kramaric (50'), 3-1 Kramaric (86')
The hosts came into this game on the back of two consecutive league wins and so started confidently, pressing their visitors high up the pitch. The tactic soon paid off as Serge Gnabry pounced on a defensive mistake to tee up Andrej Kramaric for a simple finish. Hannover recovered well, however, and equalised shortly afterwards through Kenan Karaman. The remainder of the first half was evenly-balanced, with the well-organised guests keeping Hoffenheim at bay.
That all changed after the interval, though, with Julian Nagelsmann's team increasing the intensity as they looked for a win that would keep them in the European hunt. They edged in front again early in the second half when Kramaric struck a superb volley from Kerem Demirbay's corner. Substitute Adam Szalai wasted a golden opportunity to add a third in the closing stages before Kramaric completed an outstanding hat-trick, expertly lobbing Philipp Tschauner following a swift counter-attack to give Hoffenheim a vital win.
- Kramaric scored his eighth, ninth and tenth goals since the turn of the year in this game. Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski has found the net more often in the Bundesliga in 2018 (13).Karaman's equaliser was his first goal of the season.Kramaric's hat-trick was just the second time this season he has scored two or more goals in a game, following his double in a 4-2 win over Mainz on Matchday 22. Hoffenheim are on an nine-match unbeaten run (W6, D3) – currently the longest in the league.Hannover are without a win in 11 on the road in the Bundesliga.This was the first time Nagelsmann has earned a point against Hannover in the Bundesliga, following two previous defeats.
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Akpoguma, Vogt (c), Nordtveit – Kaderabek, Amiri, Demirbay (Bicakcic 68'), Schulz – Kramaric, Gnabry (Zuber 20'), Uth (Szalai 63')
Unused substitutes: Kobel, Rupp, Polanski, Zulj
Absentees: Posch (groin), Grillitsch (suspended), Geiger (thigh), Hübner (thigh)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Hannover: Tschauner (c) – Elez (Fossum 67'), Hübers, Sane Albornoz – Schwegler, Bakalorz (Harnik 80') - Korb (Bebou 50'), Sorg, Karaman, Füllkrug
Unused substitutes: Esser, Maier, Ostrzolek, Maina
Absentees: Anton (thigh), Prib (cruciate ligament), Klaus (adductor), Jonathas (hamstring), Benschop (thigh)
Coach: Andre Breitenreiter
Watch: Kramaric: "We can make history"