Hoffenheim victors over Augsburg

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim consolidated their win over champions Dortmund last week with a 0-2 win away at FC Augsburg. After Ryan Babel put them ahead early on, keeper Tom Starke kept their lead intact by saving a penalty. Sejad Salihovic made sure of the win by with a penalty of his own.

Hoffenheim manager Holger Stanislawski kept faith with the same eleven which defeated Dortmund last week. FC Augsburg manager Jos Luhukay made four changes to the side which drew 1-1 at Kaiserslautern last time out. Hajime Hosogai and Akaki Gogia were handed their Bundesliga debuts, while Gibril Sankoh and Andrew Sinkala returned to the starting line-up.

From the first minute Hoffenheim pressured the opposition goal. Edson Braafheid dribbled into the box but just failed to get a shot in, while Sebastian Rudy also fired narrowly wide. But after only five minutes they got their reward for a strong start. Ryan Babel played a neat one-two with Fabian Johnson, steadied himself and slammed a shot into the left-hand corner. Not content, however, to sit on their lead, Hoffenheim continued in their high-intensity approach. Chinedu Obasi was played in by Johnson, but was denied by a superb challenge from Jonas de Roeck. Augsburg managed to come back into the game, but were forced into playing long-balls by their opponent's heavy pressing.

The Augsburgers had their first real chance after 16 minutes. Sascha Mölders was fouled by Braafheid just outside the right-hand corner of the box, but the resulting free-lick, fired into the box at pace, couldn't find an Augsburg head. Hoffenheim responded well to being under pressure and seized back the initiative, with Roberto Firmino and Johnson looking particularly threatening. In defence, ‘Stani's' team also looked solid, and Tom Starke was enjoying a quiet afternoon, only having to gather Mölders' speculative effort from distance in the opening half. Augsburg looked increasingly vulnerable in defence and, at half-time, what was surprising was that Hoffenheim only lead by one goal.

Neither team made any changes in personnel for the beginning of the second half. Sebastian Rudy nearly suffered an embarrassing moment when his wayward pass let Mölders in on goal, but Starke saved his midfielder by turning the Augsburg's man's shot around the post. The second half was turning into a rather scrappy affair, with both sides committing fouls. With a 1-0 lead intact, Hoffenheim remained dangerous on the counter-attack and sought to use their pace to stretch their opponents, although chances were scarce for both sides, until the 59th minute. Andreas Beck went for a high ball and was judged to have fouled an Augsburg player in the action – referee Wingenbach pointed to the spot. Top scorer Mölders laid the ball on the spot and shot to Starke's left, only for the Hoffenheim keeper to pull off an incredible save! It was the wake-up call which Hoffenheim needed to go on the attack again, which they did using the space afforded them by the Augsburg players who were standing off their opponents

Luhukay tried to change things up by bringing on Tobias Werner for Marcel de Jong, who soon had a great chance to equalise. A mix-up in Hoffenheim's defence allowed Werner to stride into the box unchallenged, one-on-one with Starke. Unfortunately for Luhukay's side, his shot struck the inside of the post and rebounded to safety. Then, in the 74th minute, Johnson bamboozled three defenders and surged into the penalty area, where he could only be checked with a foul, resulting in the game's second spot-kick. Salihovic succeeded where Mölders failed and put his side 2-0 up. Johnson went off to a standing ovation from the away support to be replaced by Dominik Kaiser. The last ten minutes of the match passed without real incident and Hoffenheim secured their first away win of the 2011-12 campaign with relative comfort.

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