Hoffenheim's season ends in defeat

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim ended their Bundesliga campaign in defeat as they were beaten 3-1 by Hertha BSC Berlin in the capital. Hatem Ben-Hatira's brace and Raffael's last-gasp strike sealed the win for Hertha. Marvin Compper replied for Hoffenheim, who also had Ryan Babel harshly dismissed.

Hoffenheim boss Markus Babbel made just one change to the eleven that began the club's last game against 1. FC Nürnberg, bringing in Dominik Kaiser to replace Knowledge Musona in midfield. The attack was led by Sven Schipplock, with Babel playing on the right side of midfield, as Hoffenheim adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Wicked delivery

Hertha were fighting for their Bundesliga survival and an explosive atmosphere greeted the teams in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. The game got off to a surprisingly low-key start, however, as neither side managed to create many openings. Sejad Salihovic sent a long shot over the crossbar, while Tom Starke kept out a decent strike from Raffael with his fists (8', 13').

Having negotiated the first quarter of an hour well, 1899 then fell behind. Ben-Hatira swung a routine free-kick into the TSG penalty area and the ball eluded everyone, eventually nestling in the corner (14'). But the away side responded well. Babel's low drive flew just wide on the half-hour mark, before Schipplock was unlucky not to equalise himself. He raced onto a through-ball and rounded Berlin keeper Thomas Kraft, but his touch forced him wide and the chance was gone (34').

Babel unlucky

Then came a major talking point, which effectively changed the course of the match. Already on a yellow card, Babel was pushed into another player by Hertha's Levan Kobiashvili, who then reacted extremely theatrically when the Dutchman got to his feet to remonstrate with him. The referee deemed that Babel had engaged in violent conduct and promptly showed him a second yellow (42'). It was a very harsh decision, and one that would not have come about but for the reaction of Kobiashvili.

A goal and a man down, 1899 had a mountain to climb as the players took to the pitch for the second half. The ten men stuck to their task well, but it was Hertha that looked the more likely to register the next goal. Pierre-Michel Lasogga had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 but was guilty of a poor miss, sending his shot a long way off target (58').

Thrilling finish

Still the Hoffenheim players were competing well, their industrious display typified by captain Andreas Beck. But twelve minutes from time, Hertha struck again. After Adrian Ramos had been played in by Raffael, the Colombian's centre found its way to Ben-Hatira at the back post and he slotted in his second of the game.

Marvin Compper managed to pull a goal back with three minutes remaining, tucking in substitute Edson Braafheid's excellent cross from six yards, but Hertha sealed the points in injury time when Raffael passed into an empty net with Starke on his way back from a corner at the other end. (90').

It turned out to be a disappointing return to his old stomping ground club for TSG boss Babbel, but the result will not detract from what has been a successful second half of the campaign for Hoffenheim. The club can now continue it's planning for next season, while the players enjoy a hard-earned summer break.

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