TSG coach Markus Babbel made three changes to the side that started the 2-1 win away at Borussia Mönchengladbach last week. The suspended Marvin Compper was replaced by Jannik Vestergaard, while Ryan Babel and Daniel Williams were dropped to the bench in favour of Sven Schipplock and Roberto Firmino respectively.
Nervy opening, Sali stays calm
It was a slightly cagey start from the two teams, as both sets of players were guilty of misplacing passes. The first shot on goal fell the way of Schalke after 14 minutes. Schalke winger Julian Draxler stormed up field after a mistake by Tobias Weis, but his left-foot drive was palmed well away by 1899 stopper Tom Starke. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar then went close with an audacious chip after Jannik Vestergaard had sold his keeper short with a backpass, but the ball nestled on the roof of the net (18').
The home side had looked dangerous on the counter-attack from the off, though, and one such move eventually put them in front. Sven Schipplock was released with an excellent pass, and after dancing around Lars Unnerstall, was then brought down – penalty to TSG. Salihovic stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way for 1-0 to Hoffenheim (30').
Chances at both ends
To their credit, 1899 didn't allow complacency to set in once they had the breakthrough. Roberto Firmino sprinted clear after a super flick from Boris Vukcevic and drove into the box, but was thwarted by a clean tackle from Kyriakos Papadopoulos before he could lay the ball across goal (37'). The Brazilian then sent a rasping drive over from all of 30 yards, which had Unnerstall worried (45'), as Hoffenheim finished a keenly contested first half strongly.
If the start of the first half had been rather quiet, the opposite was the case in the second period. Both sides moved the ball quickly and attacked at pace, but the best chances seemed to be falling to the away side. Jefferson Farfan was denied by Starke at point-blank range (56'), before Jermaine Jones' header was cleared off the line by Fabian Johnson a minute later. But Hoffenheim's counter-attacks almost saw them make it 2-0. Schalke defender Joel Matip had to intercept a cross practically on his own goalline, and Salihovic's 25-yard pile-driver forced an excellent save from Unnerstall (59', 60').
Huntelaar on the spot
The 1-0 lead was a narrow one, but through some superb defending, by Vestergaard and Isaac Vorsah in particular, the hosts kept Schalke at bay. Matip's header from a corner was diverted onto the crossbar by Huntelaar, as the away side came closer. They were then, however, gifted a way back into the game thanks to a questionable refereeing decision. Ex-Hoffenheim winger Chinedu Obasi went past Andreas Beck and then to ground inside the penalty area, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Huntelaar did the honours and converted a very soft penalty for 1-1 (80').
The last ten minutes saw end-to end football, as both sides pressed hard for the win. Peniel Mlapa's direct running almost saw him force a way through to goal on a number of occasions, while Schalke were denied by yet more stoic play by the TSG rearguard. After an energetic, entertaining and sometimes scrappy 90 minutes, the referee blew for full time and the points were shared. Hoffenheim's next league game is a visit to bottom of the league 1. FC Kaiserslautern.