Bundesliga: Hoffenheim are crowned “winter champions”

German Football
By German Football December 16, 2008 08:21

Bundesliga: Hoffenheim are crowned “winter champions”

Hoffenheim failed to make use of a two-man advantage in gaining just a draw at home against Schalke but will spend the winter break as Bundesliga leaders.

Gerald Asamoah gave Schalke the lead in the 40th minute but Hoffenheim responded in the 72nd minute with a goal by Selim Teber.

Schalke finished the game with just nine players as Jermaine Jones was given his second yellow card in the 57th minute and Orlando Engelaar was dismissed in the 81st.

Hoffenheim bounced back well from their loss at Bayern Munich last week to finish the first half of the Bundesliga campaign with 35 points – level on points but with superior goal difference to Bayern.

Ralf Rangnick’s team are the first promoted side in Bundesliga history to finish the first half of the season top of the table.

In a showdown between the league’s best attack in Hoffenheim against the best defence of Schalke, the visitors started the game on the front foot and had the first chance after just three minutes with Asamoah blasting well off-target from just six yards out.

Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was called on 10 minutes later, diving to his left to save Sejad Salihovic’s curling free-kick from 18 yards.

Chinedu Obasi’s ball into the area in the 36th minute landed at the feet of Demba Ba, who tried to loop the ball over Neuer but his effort went wide of the left post.
Ba was again just off-target from eight yards in the 38th after a pass from Vedad Ibisevic.

But it was Schalke who grabbed the lead two minutes later. Halil Altintop split two defenders with a pass to Asamoah, who slotted through Hoffenheim goalkeeper Daniel Haas’ legs.

The match grew more and more intense after the break with five bookings within eight minutes, including a second for Jones in the 57th for a challenge from behind on Luiz Gustavo.

Schalke assistant Youri Mulder was sent to the stand in the 64th minute for complaining.

Hoffenheim equalised in the 72nd minute with Teber’s free-kick from 20 yards curling over the wall and past Neuer at the left post.

Tobias Weis was just inches away from giving Hoffenheim the lead with 10 minutes left but his 20-yard blast went just over the crossbar.

Schalke were reduced to nine men in the 81st minute as Holland midfielder Engelaar was shown his second yellow card for fouling Teber.

Neuer saved two more chances before Schalke’s other assistant Mike Buskens was also sent-off with two minutes left.

German Football
By German Football December 16, 2008 08:21
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