Hoffenheim miss chance to realise semi-final dream

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim will not be in this year's German Cup final four after losing 3-1 at home to VfL Wolfsburg. Despite Roberto Firmino cancelling out Ricardo Rodriguez's penalty, the Swiss left back scored a second spot kick to make it 2-1 to the visitors at half time. Bas Dost scored a third to make Firmino's late second irrelevant.

Sadly, David Abraham failed to recover from injury and was replaced by Jannik Vestergaard. Tarik Elyounoussi started on the left wing, and both Anthony Modeste and Sven Schipplock were on the bench.

The home side started intensely, using the channels well to keep Wolfsburg on the back foot, but just couldn't find the final ball. As the game settled, Wolfsburg's confidence increased - Ivan Perisic flashed a header across the box.

Pressure, a penalty, and then a deflected goal

After an exchange of midfield possession, the game opened up. Roberto Firmino was picked out by Eugen Polanski, but a great tackle from Robin Knoche deflected the Brazilian's shot over the bar. Minutes later, and a clever bit of footwork from Kevin de Bruyne confused Vestergaard who fouled the midfielder in the area. Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up and sent Koen Casteels the wrong way to give the visitors the lead.

The goal seemed to unsettle the hosts, and Casteels had to make a fine save to deny de Bruyne's curling effort from creeping in. However, as they have done all season, Hoffenheim battled their way back, stemming the flow of Wolfsburg's attacks. Soon that pressure paid off. Former TSG player Patrick Ochs played a wayward pass that was seized upon by Roberto Firmino and, after the attacker weaved his way into the box, his shot deflected off Knoche before creeping in at the near post.

Rodriguez on the spot again

Just as the opening goal did, Hoffenheim's equaliser breathed new life into the game. Soon Casteels was making yet another save from yet another de Bruyne effort. Sadly, it wasn't long before the Belgian goalkeeper was also picking the ball out of his net again. A sliding challenge by Niklas Süle on Rodriguez saw the Switzerland international pick himself up to score his second penalty of the first half.

Hoffenheim knew the next goal in the game would be pivotal, but they snapped at chances that they worked well to create. Gisdol opted for Modeste, but it was the visitors who scored instead. With Süle on the floor, Wolfsburg swept forward and striker Bas Dost slid in at the back post to double the visitor's lead.

Last ten minutes: 11 vs. 10

TSG nearly responded instantly, but Firmino's near-post flick was saved well be Benaglio. Hoffenheim's chances seemed to follow with Volland's curling effort over the bar, but when Rodriguez was harshly sent off for a second yellow, TSG found a second wind. Substitute Schipplock forced yet another fine save from Benaglio, before missing a glorious chance inside the six-yard box 12 minutes from time.

Despite a late, near-post header from Roberto Firmino, the dream of the semi-final was one Hoffenheim were not going to realise this year. The focus for the rest of the 2013/14 season is the Bundesliga and on Saturday, Stuttgart are their visitors.

Jonathan Harding

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Casteels – Beck, Süle, Vestergaard, Strobl – Polanski (67' Schipplock), Rudy – Elyounoussi (60' Modeste), Salihovic, Volland (82' Hamad) - Firmino

VfL Wolfsburg: Benaglio – Ochs (46' Medojevic), Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez – Luiz Gustavo, Träsch – Arnold (80' Olic), de Bruyne, Perisic – Dost (74' Schäfer)

Goals: 0-1 Rodriguez (26' pen.), 1-1 Firmino (39'), 1-2 Rodriguez (44' pen.), 1-3 Dost (64'), 2-3 Firmino (90+1)

Yellow cards: Polanski, Volland, Schipplock – Rodriguez, Luiz Gustavo

Red cards: Rodriguez

Referee: Peter Gagelmann

Attendance: 12,000

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