Dominant Hoffenheim brush aside VfB
TSG manager Markus Babbel was delighted with his side's performance in their 3-1 win over Hannover 96 on Sunday, and was hoping to build on the first points of the season. Babbel put his trust in the same starting line-up from that game, with Kevin Volland – who provided two assists in his substitute appearance – remaining on the bench. Instead it was another playmaker who was taking centre stage early on: Takashi Usami. Inside the first five minutes, the Japanese winger took the ball on the left-hand side, before twisting and turning his way past four VfB defenders, finally cutting onto his right foot to slide the ball beyond Ulreich and send TSG into a 1-0 lead. It was a sensational solo goal to add to the super strike he scored against SC Freiburg.
Young Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels was playing in his second Bundesliga match but wasn't being called into much action. Instead it was the away side who were threatening and had a good chance to extend their lead on 20 minutes. Usami was involved again when he played a through ball to the advanced Fabian Johnson, but the American international was unable to score his second goal in two games after a good save by Ulreich. TSG continued to push for a second and the Stuttgart goalkeeper was called on again to save from Williams' driven shot from the edge of the area. Shortly before the half time whistle, Hoffenheim got even closer to doubling their advantage. A drilled cross from the right-hand side by Vukcevic was inches away from finding Roberto Firmino in the six yard box, before it rolled on to Usami. With the keeper on the floor, the opening goalscorer had a chance to add another but a great headed clearance on the line by Sakai saved VfB.
Markus Babbel will have been happy to take a 1-0 into the break, but will have felt that his side were unlucky not to be further ahead. That feeling didn't last long in the second half though, as TSG took just 64 seconds to find the important second goal. Roberto Firmino won the ball on the half-way line with only two VfB men back and played a quick ball forward to Joselu. The Spanish striker, who was born in Stuttgart, took the ball in his stride before releasing a low right-footed shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. It signalled a fantastic start to the second half for Hoffenheim and they carried on in similar fashion. Just ten minutes later, they added to their lead. Another breakaway from midfield allowed Fabian Johnson to run into space on the left-hand side. The defender's smart square ball found Joselu at the edge of the area, but the striker's shot was well saved by Ulreich. The ball only came out as far as Usami but his strike from distance was also parried away, before it dropped for the well positioned Johnson, who wasn't to be denied this time as he slotted home from 10 yards.
TSG's 3-0 lead was fully deserved as Stuttgart were poor in possession and had barely threatened the away side's goal. Bruno Labbadia's team only had one major chance in the game and it came with 20 minutes to go. Hoffenheim failed to clear a corner and a header at goal was deflected into the path of Gentner, but he couldn't adjust in time to hit the target and the ball went behind off the top of the crossbar. The final stages of the match played out without incident as Markus Babbel's men recorded a second straight victory and with it an important clean sheet. Spirits will be high going into Saturday's game against FC Augsburg at 15.30 CET, and Hoffenheim are hungry for more points.
VfB Stuttgart: Ulreich – Sakai, Tasci, Niedermeier, Molinaro – Okazaki (39' Traore), Kvist (56' Kuzmanovic), Gentner Cacau – Hajnal (46' Holzhauser), Ibisevic
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Casteels – Beck, Delpierre, Compper, Johnson – Vukcevic (88' Schröck), Williams, Rudy, Usami (67' Volland) – Roberto Firmino (82' Salihovic), Joselu
Goals: 0-1 Usami (5'), 0-2 Joselu (47'), 0-3 Johnson (58')
Yellow cards: Kvist, Cacau – Williams, Joselu
Referee: Peter Sippel