Hannover suffer 1-0 defeat in Sinsheim
Hannover 96 suffered a 1-0 defeat in their crucial encounter at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on matchday 16 in the Bundesliga. Despite controlling long spells of the first half, they conceded the only goal of the match through Jonathan Schmid on the half-hour mark. Frontzeck's men were unable to generate enough pressure throughout the rest of the match and thus were unable to mount a comeback.
Hannover 96 manager Michael Frontzeck made three changes to the side that lost 3-1 in Schalke last weekend: Sorg, Schmiedebach and Sobiech were replaced by Sakai, Prib and youngster Saint-Maximin, who made his full debut in the game.
Reds manage solid start, but Hoffenheim score
Keeper Ron-Robert Zieler was called into action just two minutes after kick-off, intercepting a set-piece by Amiri from a left-hand position. Afterwards Hannover began to force the play into Hoffenheim's half and earned numerous corner kicks of which none led to any real danger. Andreasen's attempt after 13 minutes following a fine pass by Saint-Maximin was their best chance early on but he fired over when well placed. Luck was not on the visitors' side two minutes later, when Gülselam’s effort hit the frame of the goal and rolled along the line before being cleared to safety. The Reds thus failed to reward themselves for their solid start to this game. Instead, Hoffenheim took the lead as Jonathan Schmid converted following Volland's cross from the right side. Three minutes later Zieler was again beaten, but Schär's attempt was ruled out for offside. Hannover managed two late charges in the first half but on both occasions Andreasen couldn’t find the back of the net, allowing Hoffenheim to take a slightly fortunate 1-0 lead into half time.
Hannover unable to find a breakthrough
No changes were made at half time and Hannover were back on the move after the break. Karaman just failed to connect with the ball properly following a free-kick by Andreasen three minutes after the restart. At the other end Volland came close to doubling Hoffenheim's advantage in the 53rd minute. Salif Sané was constantly involved, winning lots of challenges and always looking to take shots on goal. Gülselam was replaced by Mevlüt Erdinc on the hour mark, giving Hannover additional firepower in the attacking third. But instead of turning the game around, the Reds were fortunate not to concede a second goal as Zieler made a fine save from Volland following a swiftly executed attack. Hannover kept looking for the equaliser but were simply unable to find a breakthrough. Hoffenheim had further chances to put the game away in the closing stages, but ultimately the one first-half goal was enough for them to secure the three points and send Hannover home empty-handed.
Tight battle at the bottom
The defeat against a direct opponent in the standings was another set-back for the Reds, while Hoffenheim managed to close the gap as a tight battle at the bottom of the standings is unfolding. Hannover still have one tough task ahead of them, as they host record champions and table toppers FC Bayern in their final game of the year.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Baumann - Kaderabek, Schär, Süle, Kim - Strobl, Schwegler (87’ Bicakcic) - Schmid, Elyounoussi - Amiri (83’ Polanski), Volland (65’ Vargas)
Hannover 96: Zieler - Sakai, Marcelo, Schulz, Albornoz - Sané, Andreasen, Gülselam (59’ Erdinç), Saint-Maximin (77’ Bähre), Prib (71’ Benschop), Karaman
Goals: 1-0 Schmid (30’)
Yellow cards: Schär / Gülselam, Albornoz, Andreasen
Referee: Dr. Jochen Drees (Münster-Sarmsheim)