Hoffenheim draw keeps Hanover top of Bundesliga

AFP
Hanover 96 remains top of the Bundesliga as Hoffenheim is held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hertha Berlin after Sandro Wagner's early header is cancelled out.
AFP
Reuters

Hoffenheim’s Sandro Wagner scores against Hertha Berlin during their German Bundesliga match at Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Hoffenheim, on September 17, 2017. The match ended 1-1.

Hanover 96 remained top of the German Bundesliga as Hoffenheim was held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hertha Berlin on Sunday after Sandro Wagner's early header was cancelled out.

In the first-ever Bundesliga match to kick off at 1:30pm local time, Germany striker Wagner powered home a header after just six minutes to give Hoffenheim the lead in Sinsheim.

However, Hertha striker Alexander Esswein equalized when he dived at Marvin Plattenhardt's cross on 55 minutes and the ball flew into the net off his shoulder.

Having got itself level, Pal Dardai's Hertha defended deep, packed players around the ball and frustrated Hoffenheim to earn a point away from home as neither side managed to create many more clear chances.

The result leaves Hoffenheim fourth in the table with Hertha down to 11th and keeps Hanover, which won promotion back to the Bundesliga last season, as the unlikely league leader.

Hanover went top of the table on Friday for the first time in 48 years with a 2-0 win at Hamburg, thanks to goals by Martin Harnik and Togo winger Ihlas Bebou.

However, Borussia Dortmund can knock Hanover from top spot on Sunday afternoon when it hosts bottom side Cologne, which has lost all three Bundesliga games so far and fell 1-3 at Arsenal on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League.

Defending champion Bayern Munich is second, one point behind Hanover, after its 4-0 hammering of Mainz on Saturday when Robert Lewandowski netted twice while Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller also got on the scoresheet.

Meanwhile, VfB Stuttgart captain Christian Gentner is expected to make a full recovery after breaking his lower and lateral eye-socket, nose and upper-jaw in the side's Bundesliga win over VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Stuttgart said the 32-year-old Gentner will undergo surgery in the coming days.

Gentner was struck in the head by Koen Casteels' knee as the Wolfsburg goalkeeper came out to clear a high ball late in the game. Play was suspended as the unconscious Gentner received attention on the pitch before he was taken off on a stretcher.

Stuttgart sporting director Michael Reschke described the injuries as a "cruel blow" for Gentner, and the club wished him "a speedy recovery".


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