TSG 1899 Hoffenheim defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at the Rhine Neckar Arena to overtake the Black and Yellows into third position on Saturday afternoon. The win caps off a remarkable finish to the season for Julian Nagelsmann’s side who go straight into the Champions League group stage next season.
Raphael Guerreiro had the first chance of the game with Oliver Baumann tipping it over the bar. The Portuguese wing-back had another chance after beating the offside trap, but with time to pick his spot it was straight at Baumann.
Andrej Kramaric saw a low drive saved after nice work from Ermin Bicakcic, but the Croatian didn’t have to wait long to get another chance. Roman Bürki had a nightmare, his poor touch and pass intercepted by Kramaric who finished into the bottom corner.
Dortmund had a great chance to equalise before half-time but didn’t take it. Hoffenheim lost possession and the visitors countered through Andre Schürrle, the forward putting the ball wide when it seemed easier to score.
The second half saw the hosts begin with a patient approach before creating chances. Ádám Szalai’s blocked shot was followed up by Steven Zuber’s deflected attempt, Pavel Kadarabek getting the better of Raphaël Guerreiro as Nico Schulz had another shot blocked.
Despite their positive start to the second half it was soon 1-1. Marco Reus and Guerreiro combined with Reus putting it away from close range. It didn’t faze the hosts who swiftly retook the lead.
A nice move saw Kramaric find Szalai in close range, the striker waiting for Burki to go down before executing a tidy lob over the stranded keeper. Dortmund were making it easy for Hoffenheim as they had no focal point in attack.
With the visitors running out of ideas Hoffenheim took further advantage. A free kick produced a scramble in the box, the ball fell to Kadarabek who shot through a crowd to make it 3-1.
With news of Leverkusen’s result coming through to the players, Dortmund were in a hurry to get off the pitch without conceding four. Referee Manuel Gräfe’s final whistle signalled a pitch invasion of the friendly kind as the party got started for Hoffenheim.
Nagelsmann’s side deserved the win and were more clinical with their finishing. Despite having a host of injuries, they stepped up when it mattered in front of their own fans with Kramaric very good once again and Schulz creating plenty of danger down the left wing.
Dortmund will be relieved the season is over after scraping into fourth position and securing Champions League football. They are playing without joy, without structure and are wasting the talent at their disposal. Peter Stöger completed his mission but will be eager to take a break after a stressful season.
The day belonged to Hoffenheim and Nagelsmann however. A roller coaster season and a debut European campaign threatened to derail their ambitions, but they stormed home into third position after standing tall amongst a group of clubs that capitulated in the closing weeks.
By Matthew Marshall.