The Tasmania Berlin supporters who turned up outside the Olympiastadion last week appear to have had their invocations answered. FC Schalke 04 will not break the 1965/66 amateur Bundesliga side's historic record of 31-winless-league games.
Nineteen-year-old Matthew Hoppe proved the most unlikeliest of hat-trick heroes, finishing with incredible composure after Amine Harit set him up with near perfect through balls on three separate occasions.
Schalke finally have their victory. Those, justifiably, somewhat weary of tracking the stalling form of US Internationals in Germany's top flight also have a new hero. Recent teenage call-up Matthew Hoppe, a California native who has never represented his country at any level, shocked the world with a sensational hat-trick to lead die Königsblauen to their first league-win in 357 days.
All eyes initially rested upon Sead Kolasinac on Saturday afternoon at the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen. As promised, new head-coach Christian Groß inserted the clubs newest prize-acquisition directly into the starting XI at left-back. The presence of the 27-year-old former S04 youth academy graduate certainly made an early difference, as Germany's Royal Blues fought harder for midfield balls and looked far more confident.
This was not to be a day for blasts from the past, however. Within the first 15 minutes, Hoppe showed an insatiable appetite for goal with two close chances. Sebastian Hoeneß's Kraichgauer recovered to take control of the match during a strong stretch between the 20th and 40th minute. The hosts broke back the other way on a vicious counterattack in the 42nd.
A Kolasinac ball-win eventually saw Amine Harit forward in possession. The young Morroccan put the American forward through. Hoppe then cut inside from an acute angle and supplied an exquisite chip ball past Hoffenheim keeper Frank Baumann for his first-ever Bundesliga goal. Buoyed by this lead, Schalke's tackling and positional play exhibited an ever-keener and more precise flair. Hoppe and Harit were far from finished.
In the 57th, an amazing tackle from S04 defender Benjamin Stambouli again saw Harit forward with resolute determination. The 23-year-old again found Hoppe, who this time rounded Baumann with all the composure of a veteran to finish easily. Astonishingly enough, the scene repeated itself again. Harit himself intercepted a pass. In came another through ball for Hoppe. This time, the "California Dreamer" supplied a sumptuous first-time chip finish off the outside of his right boot.
The shellshocked Sinsheimer could manage very little thereafter. Harit opted to have a go himself when a Bastian Oczipka deflection fell at his feet in the 80th. Baumann barely tried to stop the fourth Schalke goal and the magnificent North African added a goal to his three assists on the day.
Elsewhere in an absolutely thrilling round of Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, SC Freiburg completely demolished 1. FC Köln 5-0 in a match that featured five separate goal-scorers. Christian Streich's Breisgauer now ride an incredible five-match league-winning streak all the way up to eighth place in the table.
Wolfsburg and 1. FC Union Berlin drew 2-2 in a highly captivating game in which Germanys green company team leveled despite being reduced to ten-men at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. André Silva collected a brace on two converted penalties to lead Frankfurt past Mainz 2-0.
Werder Bremen nearly pulled off the upset against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but a late VAR-awarded Patrik Schick goal ensured that the match finished 1-1.
|20||Sead Kolašinac (C)|
|28||Alessandro Schöpf ↩68|
|25||Amine Harit ⚽ ↩88|
|43||Matthew Hoppe ⚽⚽⚽ ↩88|
|7||Mark Uth ↩73|
|9||Benito Raman ↪68|
|15||Ahmed Kutucu ↪88|
|24||Bastian Oczipka ↪73|
|33||Malick Thiaw ↪88|
|1||Oliver Baumann (C)|
|18||Diadie Samassekou ↩61|
|19||Ishak Belfodil ↩61|
|7||Jacob Bruun Larsen|
|23||Sargis Adamyan ↪61|
|15||Kasim Nuhu ↪61|