4-1 defeat leaves TSG down but not out

Hamburger SV inflicted a 4-1 defeat on TSG 1899 Hoffenheim that leaves them in an automatic relegation spot going into the final Bundesliga matchday. Kevin Volland scored the goal for TSG, but the hosts were already 3-0 down by that stage. Hope of Markus Gisdol's side preserving their top-flight status is still alive however, with a win against Borussia Dortmund next week the requirement, coupled with defeat for either Augsburg or Düsseldorf.

With all Bundesliga matches being played at the same time, TSG's final home game of the season was sure to offer some nail-biting moments for the 30,000 fans inside a sold-out WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena. A third home victory in succession was the aim for Markus Gisdol's side and the manager made just two changes to his starting line-up. The suspended Jannik Vestergaard was replaced by 17-year-old Niklas Süle and Sven Schipplock took up USA-international Fabian Johnson‘s place. In his press conference, Gisdol said he was hoping that an “unpredictable” Hamburger SV would have one of their bad days, but the visitors showed their good side in the opening stages. Hoffenheim's defence were being kept busy with several crosses and TSG's only attack came from Sejad Salihovic's off-target strike from distance. Unfortunately for the hosts, HSV's first meaningful attack put them 1-0 up. Dennis Diekmeier was allowed time to cross from the right-hand side and Heung Min Son took advantage of Koen Casteels' slip on the line to find the bottom corner with his header.

TSG tried to react strongly but couldn't force their way through the Hamburg back line. HSV aimed to catch the home team on the break and Petr Jiracek had a big chance to double his side's lead. Son's pass wriggled free of Stefan Thesker and Jiracek was free in front of goal, though his curled effort just went beyond the far post. Another counterattack in the 35th minute did add damage to the scoreline however, with Son breaking through the offside trap. The South Korean striker rounded Casteels in the TSG goal before pulling back for Dennis Aogo to tap in unopposed. Markus Gisdol's men were left with a hill to climb if they were to take anything from the game and could have made things easier shortly before the break with a golden opportunity. HSV keeper Rene Adler misjudged a deep free kick and the ball ran on to Schipplock on the by-line. The striker lifted the ball back towards Kevin Volland but the 20-year-old's header was hooked off the line by Marcell Jansen.

Glimmer of hope

Gisdol made an attacking change during the interval, swapping Tobias Weis with Fabian Johnson in search of at least two goals. Hoffenheim looked more intent and certainly had more width and half-chances started to appear. Beck's overlapping on the right-hand side opened up the Hamburg defence on multiple occasions but each time the ball in from the captain failed to find a fellow player in blue. Adler was tested for the first time ten minutes into the second half thanks to Volland's left-footed strike, but the Germany international got two strong palms behind the ball. Minutes later though, TSG's challenge looked all but over when Jiracek extended Hamburg's lead even further, turning in Jansen's wayward shot. Hoffenheim responded instantly, pulling a goal back just one minute later. This time, Volland was not to be denied, hammering a shot underneath Adler after a clever backheel from Johnson to make it 3-1.

The hosts looked more buoyed after the goal, especially with news that goals elsewhere in the Bundesliga were starting to go their way. Johnson had a good chance to score himself after he was picked out in the centre but he failed to keep his effort under the crossbar. The same thing happened in the 76th minute from Salihovic's 20-yard free kick, the Bosnian just unable to get enough dip on his strike. With TSG throwing numbers forward, on top of further attacking substitutions, it was inevitable that they would be caught out once more at the back and HSV substitute Artjoms Rudnevs was the one responsible for restoring the visitors' three-goal lead. The Latvian striker found himself in space after Badelj's pass and lifted the ball over the stranded Casteels. It was the final nail in the coffin that condemns TSG to a painful, but not fatal, defeat. Both Augsburg and Düsseldorf also lost, meaning a win against Dortmund next week is a must, a result that needs to be combined with defeat for either of the other two sides if Hoffenheim want to avoid automatic relegation.

Matt Hardy

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Casteels – Beck, Abraham, Süle (81' de Camargo), Thesker – Weis (46' Johnson), Rudy (81' Ludwig) – Volland, Firmino, Salihovic – Schipplock

Hamburger SV: Adler – Diekmeier, Westermann, Rajkovic, Jansen – Rincon, Badelj – Jiracek (90' Beister), van der Vaart, Aogo (65' Skjelbred) – Son (78' Rudnevs)

Goals: 0-1 Son (18'), 0-2 Aogo (35'), 0-3 Jiracek (60'), 1-3 Volland (61'), 1-4 Rudnevs (88', Yellow cards: Diekmeier, Attendance: 30,150, Referee: Christian Dingert

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