Hoffenheim suffer late equaliser from Hertha

1899 Hoffenheim were denied three points today thanks to a last-gasp equaliser from Hertha Berlin's Roman Hubnik. Sejad Salihovic had put the home side into the lead with a thunderbolt, but Hubnik's equaliser deprived TSG of a win in their last game of 2011.

Manager Holger Stanislawski was forced into one change to the eleven which started in the league against 1. FC Nürnberg last time out, replacing the suspended Marvin Compper with Jannik Vestergaard.

Referee Peer Sippel got the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena's 50th Bundesliga game underway, and it was Stanislawski's side which started the game off the stronger. Hoffenheim forced an early corner, from which the Hertha defence was put under pressure from a dangerous Salihovic delivery, while at the other end Tom Starke had to be alert to stop a cross from Patrick Ebert with Raffael lurking. The first goalscoring attempt came on 15 minutes, and it was the home side which had it. Brazilian Roberto Firmino found space to shoot and his drive was smartly turned round the post by Thomas Kraft. And from the resulting corner, Vestergaard headed narrowly over the bar.

Salihovic special

Hoffenheim were in the ascendancy and playing some excellent football, and the opening goal had been coming for TSG when it arrived. Salihovic collected a pass and let fly from 25 yards, and his drive sailed into the corner, leaving Kraft with no chance (21). He almost added a second with a free-kick just two minutes later. On the half-hour mark, the game changed dramatically as Hertha were reduced to ten men. After an innocuous-looking altercation between Salihovic and Raffael, Hertha's Brazilian midfielder was shown a straight red card after making a threatening gesture in Salihovic's face. Hoffenheim now looked comfortable, being a goal up and with a man advantage, although Patrick Ebert's run and shot did provide one brief scare for the home defence (37).

Nervy moments

The sides emerged from the dressing room unchanged. Unlike in the first half, the second half began in a rather scrappy fashion, as both sides committed their fair share of fouls. The home side's passing game, so incisive in the first half, then became sloppy, and Hertha came close to equalising. Substitute Tunay Torun saw a shot sail over, while Vestergaard blocked an effort from Adrian Ramos. Andreas Beck then almost gifted the away side a goal when his wayward back-pass almost crept in. Stanislawski reacted by bringing on Knowledge Musona and Boris Vukcevic in place of Peniel Mlapa and Ryan Babel (60), and the two of them almost combined to make it 2-0, but Musona's effort was deflected clear.

Ten against ten

On 63 minutes it was Hoffenheim's turn to have a player sent off. Adrian Ramos got the wrong side of Vorsah and was brought down. Referee Sippel judged that Vorsah was the last man and showed the defender a red card, making the numbers even again.

Vestergaard and Vedad Ibisevic both went close to adding to their side's lead, while Hertha substitute Ronny was unlucky to see his shot come back off the post, as the game entered its final stages with just a one-goal difference. Ibisevic, last week's two-goal hero in Nürnberg, then had a great chance to seal the points when the ball found its way to him eight yards out, but his shot was deflected clear after an instinctive save from Kraft.

Hubnik equalises

Still winning 1-0, the home side attempted to run the clock down by keeping possession and it was a good tactic. But, with their very last attack, Hertha forced an equaliser to break Hoffenheim hearts. A long free-kick was launched into the 1899 box and Roman Hubnik was there to turn the ball home (91). There was no time for a winner and the points were shared. Holger Stanislawski's side resume their league campaign in January with a home fixture against Hannover 96.

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