After drawing away 2-2 at Leverkusen in their last game, Fink brought Dutch defender Jeffrey Bruma in for Englishman Michael Mancienne, and replaced Heung-Min Son with Marcus Berg to partner Jose Guerrero up front. Holger Stanislawski also made changes to the eleven which played out a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Kaiserslautern two weeks ago. Club captain Andreas Beck came into the side to replace Andreas Ibertsberger for his 100th Bundesliga appearance for 1899. Isaac Vorsah also returned to the starting line-up ahead of Jannik Vestergaard, and Tobias Weis came in for Chinedu Obasi for his first start of the season after his injury. He slotted into central midfield with Sebastian Rudy with Sejad Salihovic pushed out wide to the left.
Hoffenheim on top after a shaky start
It was the home side who began the quicker of the two sides on a chilly evening in Hamburg. After just two minutes, Gojko Kacar set Guerrero through with a delightful pass, but the striker could only hit his shot straight at Starke from a tight angle. Hoffenheim gradually began to cope with the high balls being launched into their half, and came into the game themselves with a strong twenty-minute spell. Stani's side bean to spray the ball around comfortably, exposing holes in the Hamburg defence and at times having their opponents chasing shadows with some classy possession football. They also came close to talking the lead on 17 minutes, when Salihovic's drive from twelve yards narrowly missed the target after a neat touch to set him up from Tobias Weis.
When Hamburg's goal did arrive, it came against the run of play and was an unlucky one for Stani's side to concede. A driven cross into the Hoffenheim box cannoned off Beck and the ball found its way to Guerrero, one-on-one with Starke. The Peruvian‘s first effort was saved, but he managed to force the rebound home to give his side an unexpected lead (25). It looked like conceding the goal had knocked the stuffing out of Hoffenheim somewhat, as errors began to creep into their passing game that had been so sharp at 0-0. Jaroslav Drobny, the HSV goalkeeper, was a veritable spectator for the rest of the half.
Jansen makes it two
The two sides emerged from the dressing rooms at half-time and again it was the home side that made the quicker start. Kacar and defender Heiko Westermann both had good opportunities to add to the lead, but shot straight at a well-positioned Starke (50, 60). But the pressure soon told as HSV, pressing their opponents further and further back, found the back of Starke's net for a second time. Jansen, who scored the equaliser at Leverkusen two weeks ago, made it two goals in two games, as he surged past Salihovic into the Hoffenheim penalty area and found the near corner with a precise finish (65). The winger nearly made it 3-0 just three minutes later, but Starke got a strong hand to his shot, as Hoffenheim were well and truly on the back foot in the game.
A pulsating finish
The introduction of Brazilian Roberto Firmino for Sebastian Rudy injected some more urgency into 1899's game and they came close to pulling a goal back on a couple of occasions. Firstly, Ryan Babel could only strike the side netting with a shot from distance, while Firmino's header was saved comfortably by Czech keeper Drobny. And in the last ten minutes of the game, the fans were treated to a frantic finale. Babel, Firmino and Fabian Johnson all found themselves in good positions but were denied by some last-ditch defending or a poor final pass. At the other end, HSV almost added to the scoreline through Jansen and Dennis Diekmeier. There was still time for Firmino to have a headed effort cleared off the line by Diekmaier (86), before referee Marco Fritz blew for full-time, bringing and entertaining game to a conclusion.
It was a good performance from Stani's side, but the 2-0 result means they are without a league win since early September. Stani's side now occupy 9th place in the Bundesliga table. Their next game is a home encounter with SC Freiburg, and the manager will be hoping his side can secure its first three points since the win over Wolfsburg eight games ago.