TSG win comfortably thanks to Grahl heroics

Jens Grahl put in an unbelievable goalkeeping display as 1899 Hoffenheim extended their unbeaten run to five games with a 2-0 win over FC Augsburg. First-half goals from Sejad Salihovic and Jannik Vestergaard were enough for victory as Grahl produced heroics in the second half to make sure of only TSG's second clean sheet of season.

There was just one change for TSG from the side that drew to Hertha last Sunday. Koen Casteels, who was injured in that game in the capital, will play no more part in Hoffenheim's season, and the Belgian keeper was replaced by Jens Grahl. TSG lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with the attacking trio of Kevin Volland, Roberto Firmino and Sejad Salihovic playing behind the lone front man of Tarik Elyounoussi.

Hoffenheim dominant in first half

It was Augsburg who had the first opportunity of the match within 90 seconds when Jannik Vestergaard carelessly slipped on the edge of his own penalty area, allowing Sascha Mölders to shoot. The Augsburg striker's effort had Grahl beaten, but the woodwork came to TSG's rescue. Both teams were pushing for a goal in the opening 15 minutes, with Hoffenheim enjoying the majority of the chances. Eugen Polanski found room in the box and was about to pull the trigger, only to be brought to the floor by an Augsburg defender. However, the referee did not point to the spot despite Hoffenheim protests. TSG continued their search for an opening goal and were duly rewarded for their efforts in the 19th minute. After another Hoffenheim counterattack, TSG were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal just to the right of the area. Up stepped Salihovic, who curled the ball exquisitely up and over the Augsburg wall and into the left corner of Marwin Hitz's goal. It was the Bosnian midfielder's 44th Bundesliga goal for Hoffenheim – a club record – and it was another sensational strike to show the grandchildren.

Hoffenheim continued to press after their goal, but had Grahl to thank in the 28th minute when Augsburg broke on the counter. The stand-in keeper did well to tip Ostrzolek's shot from close range over the bar and did even better from the resulting corner. The Augsburg set-piece was met by the head of Halil Altintop but Grahl was once again equal to it, and did superbly to palm away his effort and keep his team in the lead. Hoffenheim were playing the majority of their football in Augsburg's half and doubled their lead on 41 minutes. An outswinging corner from Salihovic eventually found its way to Elyounoussi on the edge of the box, who struck a low driven shot. The Norwegian's effort was blocked on the line by an Augsburg defender and after deflecting off another defender fell to the feet of Vestergaard who made no mistake from close range. The Danish defender doubled Hoffenheim's advantage and TSG entered the dressing room at half time two goals to the good.

Grahl heroics keep Augsburg at bay

There were no changes for either side at the break and Hoffenheim started the second half the brighter of the two sides. Three minutes after the restart, TSG were awarded a free kick in a similar position to the one which produced their first goal. Salihovic struck another sweet left footed shot, only for Hitz to produce an outstanding save and deny the Bosnian his second of the game. Moments later, Polanski found space outside the Augsburg penalty area but his effort sailed just over the crossbar. Hoffenheim had Grahl to thank once again on 53 minutes. Alexander Esswein found himself in space inside the box but his left footed shot was saved superbly by Grahl, who dealt comfortably with the resulting corner and kept TSG's rare clean sheet intact.

Hoffenheim began to defend in numbers as the game drew longer and goalscorer Salihovic was replaced by Anthony Modeste, making his return from injury. The Frenchman's introduction meant that Hoffenheim played with two in attack and the game became stretched as both teams pushed for a goal. TSG's search for a third almost backfired on 75 minutes, when their high defensive line was exposed to a long searching Augsburg pass. The through ball found substitute Raul Bobadilla and the Argentine striker forced another tremendous low save from Grahl, who was almost single-handedly preventing Augsburg from scoring. Hoffenheim created good chances to extend their lead in the closing five minutes with Firmino and substitute Süle going close. However, Hoffenheim's two first-half goals combined with Jens Grahl's superb goalkeeping display secured three points for TSG and only their second clean sheet of the season. It is now five games unbeaten for Gisdol's men and means they remain in ninth place on 40 points as their fantastic second half of the season continues.

Oliver Trenchard

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim:Grahl – Johnson, Strobl, Vestergaard, Beck – Rudy (Süle 79') - Polanski, Salihovic (Modeste 68'), Firmino – Elyounoussi (Herdling 87')

FC Augsburg:Hitz – Verhaegh, Jeong-Ho, Ostrzolek, Hahn (Holzhauser 78'), Kohr (Vogt 25'), Baier, Esswein – Altintop – Mölders (Bobadilla 64')

Goals:1-0 Salihovic (19'), 2-0 Vestergaard (41')
Yellow cards:Beck - Vogt
Referee:Markus Schmidt

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