1899 break the duck and 40-points!

Mission accomplished. 1899 Hoffenheim have met their season targets. Marco Pezzaiuoli's men managed to break the magical 40-point mark with a rugged performance against a struggling Eintracht Frankfurt side. Roberto Firmino was the golden boy on the day as his debut goal turned out to be the decider in the 1-0 win.

Head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli was without captain Andreas Beck for the first time this season after the ever-present defender, who hasn't missed a single minute of action, picked up his fifth yellow card last weekend. It meant that Tobias Weis returned to the starting line-up moving Andreas Ibertsberger from defensive midfield to right-back. There was positive news as Chinedu Obasi sat on the bench for the first time in months, while Pezzaiuoli's counterpart, Christopher Daum, was able to recall top scorer Theofanis Gekas.

Referee Michael Weiner got the game underway, but the game failed to spring into life early on as both teams felt each other out without creating any chances worthy of mention. Most of Hoffenheim's attacking play was going through Ryan Babel, but the final ball was lacking on most of the moves going forward. Approaching the quarter hour mark Alexander Meier won the ball on the edge of the area before seeing his effort tipped over by Tom Starke for the first real chance of the match. It was a good save and would only be beaten by a better one minutes later when Sebastian Jung played a pin-point long range pass that Gekas brought down majestically. Unfortunately he couldn't put the finishing touches on the chance with Starke making a sublime reaction save to put it behind for a corner.

1899 couldn't shift into gear in the opening half hour and Gekas was thwarted once again when Starke kept his long-range effort at bay. Babel continued to be the only bright spark for the home side as he set up Rudy for 1899's first chance of the match, but his is 20-yarder skidded wide of the target. It gave them a boost right before the break and Rudy, Edson Braafheid and Ibisevic continued to combine nicely. The only other chance came in the final minutes as Rudy put Ralf Fährmann to the test, for essentially the first time in the match, with a teasing free-kick.

Pezzaiuoli made one change during the break giving Gylfi Sigurdsson a chance to try his luck in place of Rudy. He set up Babel early on, but the Dutch striker couldn't find the target. Then it was time for round three of Gekas vs. Starke when Hoffenheim gave away possession cheaply in front of their own area allowing Köhler to play Gekas in behind. However, once again Starke came out on top racing off his line to close the angle on the Greek international who once again failed to find a way past the keeper. The chance injected some momentum into the game as both teams started pushing forward more regularly.

Babel was still the main man for the Kraichgau outfit going forward making good runs in behind the defence, one of which Mlapa managed to provide with a pass. However, despite rounding the keeper the youngsters touch was heavy taking him wide and meant that his effort from a tight angle flew high into the night sky and away from danger. Starke was at full stretch moments later as Schwegler dipping effort rocketed towards goal, once again palming it behind. Fan favourite Sigurdsson nearly had everyone on their feet when his free-kick whizzed past the left post, but the game was finally beginning to pick up pace. Fährmann then did his best Starke impression as he stretched himself to parry Ibisevic's volley from the edge of the area after good link-up between the Bosnian and Mlapa. Sigurdsson continued to make an impact swinging a teasing ball into the box and Ibisevic was once again inches away from breaking the deadlock before it was finally achieved moments later by an unlikely source. Babel was involved as usual when Fährmann failed to hold his stinging long-range drive. The ball fell kindly to Roberto Firmino who had reacted quickest to score a true poachers goal, wheeling away to celebrate his first ever Bundesliga goal. It took the wind well and truly out of Frankfurt's sails and despite giving their best efforts they couldn't find a way through to Tom Starke's goal. Jannik Vestergaard then made his Bundesliga debut coming on for Ryan Babel who had put in a man-of-the-match style performance inside the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Super sub Sigurdsson should have extended the lead when Ibisevic played him in down the right, but one-on-one with the keeper he couldn't find the back of the net. It brought an end to a tight affair and although it took them a while to get going, 1899 Hoffenheim just about deserved the win for their dogged performance allowing them to once again celebrate claiming all three points.


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