After a heartbreaking exit from the DFB-Pokal in mid-week, FC Augsburg have suffered a heavy home defeat against TSG Hoffenheim. Ishak Belfodil scored a hat-trick as the visitors ran out 4-0 winners at the WWK ARENA.
Augsburg head coach Manuel Baum made three changes to the side that fell to the unfortunate 2-1 DFB-Pokal quarter-final defeat against Leipzig on Tuesday. Jonathan Schmid and Dong-Won Ji both returned after recovering from injuries while Reece Oxford started for the first time since serving a three match suspension. Rani Khedira missed the match with a muscle problem sustained against Leipzig while Georg Teigl and André Hahn dropped to the bench.
Hoffenheim dominated the early exchanges and took the lead with their first chance of the match. Ishak Belfodil broke through the Augsburg defence before his shot across goal was saved superbly by Gregor Kobel. However, the Swiss goalkeeper couldn’t do anything about the rebound which fell kindly for Andrej Kramaric. The Croatian tapped the ball home from close range to give the visitors an early lead (6’). FCA went in search of an immediate response and put Hoffenheim under pressure with some good build up play. However, the hosts were unable to create any clear cut chances in the opening 20 minutes.
Kobel keeps FCA in the match – Stunning saves to deny Belfodil and Kramaric
Augsburg created their first clear chance of the match in the 22nd minute as Kevin Danso’s header was cleared by Kerem Demirbay. Hoffenheim continued to dominate possession and dictate the match. The visitors nearly doubled their lead as Kobel made two stunning saves against his parent club to keep the score at 1-0. Kobel denied Belfodil at the near post before rushing across his goal to tip a Kramaric shot onto the bar (24’). Moments later, Belfodil went close once more but he could only drag his shot wide of the far post after a counter attack (28’).
Augsburg made a first half substitution in the 27th minute to try to get back into the match, Alfred Finnbogason replacing Oxford. However, FCA continued to make mistakes in attack and failed to find the crucial final pass to unlock the Hoffenheim defence. A long distance shot from Marco Richter (38’) was the closest the hosts came to an equaliser before half-time.
Belfodil doubles Hoffenheim’s lead – the Algerian seals his hat-trick
Hoffenheim made the better start to the second half but Augsburg found their feet and started to pose problems for the visitors’ defence. Michael Gregoritsch fired a header narrowly over the bar (53’) before Richter failed to provide the right connection for a cross into the box (59’). Shortly after this positive period for Augsburg, the visitors took over once more and punished the Fuggerstädter. Demirbay was denied by Kobel (57’) and after a few shots were blocked in just a few minutes, Belfodil tapped home from another rebound to score Hoffenheim’s second (61’).
Despite falling two goals behind, the wind hadn’t been taken out of the Augsburg sails just yet. Gregortisch went close once more just a couple of minutes after the second goal, his shot falling just wide (64’). After this opportunity, Augsburg failed to create another clear cut chances to avoid damaged limitation. With just over 15 minutes to go, Hoffenheim sealed all three points as Florian Grillitsch played in Belfodil who fired past Kobel in a one-on-one situation (74’). While Finnbogason had a goal ruled out at the other end for offside (78’), Hoffenheim continued to press in search of another goal. Belfodil was rewarded for his hard-work as he sealed his hat-trick after being played through by Szalai (82’).
After the heartbreak in mid-week, FC Augsburg have fallen to their third defeat in the space of eight days. FCA have also missed out on the chance to move clear of the relegation zone. The Fuggerstädter return to action next Sunday (14th April) away against Eintracht Frankfurt (18:00 CEST)