Hoffenheim ran out comfortable winners at the Rhein-Necker-Arena this afternoon against 1. FC Union Berlin on the penultimate weekend of the Bundesliga season.
Three goals from Ihlas Bebou, Andre Kramaric and Manus Dabbur put Matthias Kaltenbach's team on easy streak before the half-time interval.
Union weren't able to muster up a response and Christoph Baumgartner came off the bench to make it four for Hoffenheim as the home side continued their push for a spot in the Europa League.
Hoffenheim: Baumann; Posch, Bicakcic, Hübner (Akop, Kaderabek, Skov; Geiger (Baumgartner 58), Grillitsch (Zuber 74); Kramaric (Brunn Larsen 74), Bebou, Dabbur (Samasseku 58)
Union Berlin: Nicolas; Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Subotic (Parensen 62); Trimmel, Reichel, Andrich (Kroos 82), Prömel; Malli (Ingvartsen 62), Andersson (Mees 84), Ujah (Abdullahi 62)
Coach Urs Fischer gave on-loan Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Moritz Nicolas his Bundesliga debut on the penultimate matchday of the league season. Neven Subotic returned, while Anthony Ujah and Yunus Malli were handed spots in the line-up. Union’s goalkeeper for the day was highly-involved from the first minute as Matthias Kaltenbach’s side looked motivated to take a step closer to European qualification. Ihlas Bebou wasted an opportunity in the eighth minute when through on Nicolas’ goal but he made no mistake after 12 minutes to give Hoffenheim the lead. Robert Skov’s free-kick after 17 minutes was strongly palmed clear by Nicolas, but the Dane turned provider for Kramaric and the Croatian blazed past Nicolas with six minutes left. The Köpenick club had no response to Hoffenheim’s dominance with Robert Andrich and Marvin Friedrich walking yellow-card tightropes. Before the close of play, Munas Dabbur fired the ball under Moritz Nicolas to give the hosts a three-goal half-time advantage.
Despite the deficit, Fischer trusted the same eleven players to push the team forward in the second half. Hoffenheim remained on top in the afternoon sun and created the best chances to increase their lead. On 56 minutes, Dennis Geiger shot past the post from about 20 yards out. Fischer's changes freshened up the Union ranks at the hour mark – the Swiss coach making three at the first opportunity. Neven Subotic, Yunus Malli and Anthony Ujah were taken off and replaced by Michael Parensen, Marcus Ingvartsen and Suleiman Abdullahi who made his first appearance since December. On 68 minutes, Baumgartner collected a through pass from Benjamin Hübner and slotted past Moritz Nicolas. Felix Kroos and Joshua Mees were given appearance time at the end, but Hoffenheim were in no danger of giving anything away.
After a heavy defeat, 1. FC Union Berlin will finish their first Bundesliga season at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei next Saturday at home to Fortuna Düsseldorf.