In a game that lacked a clinical touch from both teams, Hoffenheim took full advantage to rise into 4th place in the Bundesliga standings.
The opening minutes of the game were played with an energetic pace. Hoffenheim gave their hosts a first real scare of the afternoon on 14 minutes. Speed merchant Ihlas Bebou struck the base of the left upright after Kramaric slipped him in on goal. Fortunately for The Billy Goats the officials spotted an offside in the build-up, and the goal would not have stood had it hit the net in the first place. Raum too had a lot of early joy down the left flank – both Kramaric and Bebou unlucky once more as the bounce of the ball evaded both strikers and bounced harmlessly wide.
While Modeste had a penalty claim turned down at one end, TSG and Bebou had yet another chance at the other. Getting in around the back of the Koln defence that was missing Jonas Hector’s presence, once again the Togolese forward looked destined to score but took too much time in doing so. Schwabe made an excellent recovery save while Kilian extinguished any lingering chance with a powerful challenge to keep it 0-0.
Modeste has always struggled to score against his former team in recent years, and this looked set to continue this afternoon. Five minutes from the break and Ljubicic found the 15-goal Frenchman, but he could only direct his effort over the bar. Starting the second half brightly was Baumgart’s Koln again and Ljubicic once more found himself in a good position to score, only for Akpoguma’s exceptional last gasp interception.
Just before the hour mark and captain Modeste thought he found the breakthrough. Before the striker could celebrate a sixteenth goal of the campaign, he spotted the linesman’s flag yet again for offside. Things went from bad to worse seconds later for the home team when TSG drew first blood. Raum whipped another perfect ball in to find the head of Posch – the Austrian rose to head past Schwabe for 0-1.
Baumgart opted to use his bench with twenty minutes left. Thielmann made his way into the fray and so to Andersson, who almost scored with his first touch directly from a corner. Modeste narrowly missed from another corner moments later as he beat TSG goalkeeper Baumann to the ball. Baumgart was left with his head in his hands on the touchline as yet another chance was spurned.
Koln had well and truly pinned the team from Sinsheim into their half from the 70th minute onwards. Even with all the pressure and constant barrage of the TSG box, it just looked like Koln would never rattle the net. Andersson got on the end of another cross from Schmitz, but the effort lacked any conviction.
Hoffenheim held on for an all but convinving 0-1 win, doing just enough to take three valuable points home. Koln will be reeling given how close they came to scoring across the 90 minutes but constantly came up short.