Opening-day defeat in Hannover

1899 Hoffenheim have begun the new Bundesliga season with a defeat. Holger Stanislawski's team was beaten 2-1 by Hannover 96. The goals, all set-pieces, came in the first half.

Stanislawski went with a 4-2-3-1 system for the match. Mlapa led the attack, supported by Chinedu Obasi, Ryan Babel and Fabian Johnson. Sebastian Rudy and Sejad Salihovic were the two holding midfielders, while the back four was made up of Andreas Beck, Marvin Commper, Isaac Vorsah and Edson Braafheid.

Both teams stood off each other in a tense and cagey opening period to the game. Hoffenheim's strategy was to play with patience, moving the ball around in the hope of exposing gaps in the Hannover defence. Chinedu Obasi tried his luck from distance, but 96 keeper Ron-Robert Zieler was equal to it. The first goal arrived in curiously strange fashion after half an hour. Hoffenheim goalkeeper Tom Starke was busy arranging his wall for a free-kick, when Jan Schlaudraff tested the referee's nerve by taking the fee-kick quickly and chipping into an empty net. Referee Thorsten Kinhöfer hadn't actually blown his whistle and play hadn't restarted. Harshly for Hoffenheim, the goal stood.

Hoffenheim's reply was swift. Only three minutes later Fabian Johnson was fouled in the box and Kinhöfer pointed to the spot. Salihovic stepped up to coolly slot home the equaliser. But after 30 minutes Braafheid was adjudged to have felled Schlaudraff in the box, and Hannover were themselves given a penalty. Starke guessed the right way, but Mohammed Adbellaoue's spot-kick just managed to find´the back of the net. In the last action of an entertaining half, Mlapa crossed for Johnson to shoot just inches wide.

Hoffenheim go for it, 96 sit back

The teams emerged for the second half unchanged. Hoffenheim attempted to force the isssue, and only their final pass stopped them from equalising for a second time. Hannover were content to sit back and allow their opponents possession, hoping to catch them on the break. It wasn't until the 62nd minute that the next noteworthy opportunity arose. Salihovic burst into the penalty area and deftly played Obasi through. Only a superb saving tackle from Sergio Pinto prevented the score going 2-2. Seconds later, Sebastian Rudy's fiercely driven half-volley from 25 yards whistled agonisingly past the post.

Stanislawski opted for a more attacking approach, bringing on Roberto Firmino for Salihovic and Sven Schipplock for Ryan Babel. Hoffenheim continued to press and Obasi had the next opportunity, but he shot straight at Zieler (68''). Firmino also looked lively, and came close when Zieler gathered his effort after a weaving run. It was Hoffenheim's last opportunity to equalise.

So new manager Stanislawski's first Bundesliga match in the Hofffenheim hotseat ended in defeat.

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