An unlucky 3-1 defeat

1899 Hoffenheim went down 3-1 away at FC Schalke 04 today. In front of a crowd of 60,384 in the Veltins Arena, goals from Raul and a brace from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar were enough to give the home side the win. Bosnian striker Vedad Ibisevic replied for Hoffenheim.

Manager Holger Stanislawski began with an attacking team, playing with just one defensive midfielder in the form of Daniel Williams, while Roberto Firmino, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Chinedu Obasi, Ryan Babel, and Vedad Ibisevic were all played from the beginning. In goal, Tom Starke came back to replace Daniel Haas after recovering from his bout of concussion suffered in training early last week.

Controversial opener

The game began in a scrappy fashion, as both sides committed fouls and the game lacked any fluency. It took until the eighth minute until Hoffenheim were able to trouble the Schalke goal, as Obasi weaved his way in toward the penalty area but his ambitious curling effort was off target, while Sigurdsson also went close from distance (15). The first chance came for the home side came through precocious young winger Julian Draxler, whose weaving run was followed by a strike from distance which struck the outside of the post.. Hoffenheim, playing in their bright orange third strip, seemed to be controlling the game, until Draxler picked up the ball and crossed for Raul to make it 1-0 (28). The ex Real Madrid man struck the ball first time, but it found the back of the net after hitting his hand, and the goal should have been disallowed. Despite the protests from Hoffenheim's defenders, referee Tobias Welz allowed the goal to stand. 1899 were unlucky to be behind, but the half-time break came at a good time for them, as frustrations began to boil over following Andreas beck's yellow card for a foul on Draxler.

Ibisevic equalises for TSG

Stanislawski made no changes to his side for the second half, and his team picked up from where they had left off in the fist. Just two minutes after the restart, some great interplay between Babel and Firmino nearly freed the Brazilian, but his touch was poor and the chance was lost. The game had lost none of its physical element since the half-time break, and Schalke midfielder Kyriakos Papadopoulos had to receive lengthy treatment after a series of robust 50/50 challenges. But Hoffenheim continued to press their opponents, and their energetic play was rewarded with an equaliser just after the hour-mark. After Babel and Firmino had both missed good chances, Vedad Ibisevic celebrated becoming a father this weekend by popping up to equalise on 64 minutes, after beating Benedikt Höwedes to a cross at the near post.

Huntelaar's double

Deservedly level, Hoffenheim searched for the goal that would put them in the lead. But the home side soon came roaring back. Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came close to restoring Schalke's lead when his point-blank header was kept out by Starke (66), but it wasn't long before the home side found the net again. A long ball into the box was challenged in the air by Huntelaar and 1899 defender Marvin Commper, and referee Welz gave a penalty for an elbow in the Holland international's back. A baffled Commper protested his innocence, but the decision stood. Insult was added to injury when Huntelaar's penalty crept under Starke's leg and rolled in (73). Five minutes later it was 3-1, but again Hoffenheim conceded in desperately unlucky fashion. Draxler played a one-two with Huntelaar, and as he German received the ball, his touch was too heavy. The ricochet ended up forcing Starke into a smart stop, but Huntelaar was on hand to slot the rebound into an empty net (78).

Starke limits the damage

Now losing by a two-goal margin, Hoffenheim came under more and more pressure, and, in truth, the scoreline could have been far worse for Stani's side without some fantastic saves by Starke. He denied Teemu Pukki from a one-on-one, and also kept out Jermaine Jones' rasping volley from all of 30 yards. Schalke continued to press for another goal, until the referee called time after two added minutes. Hoffenheim were unable to make it three wins in seven days, but they do have next week's encounter at home to 1. FC Kaiserslautern to set the record straight.

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