Bundesliga Suele helps Hoffenheim go third as Bayern loom

Suele's 31st-minute header on Sunday gave unbeaten Hoffenheim their fifth win in nine games.

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Hoffenheim's defender Niklas Suele (2ndL) celebrates scoring with teammates on October 30, 2016 play

Hoffenheim's defender Niklas Suele (2ndL) celebrates scoring with teammates on October 30, 2016

(AFP)
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Rising Germany star Niklas Suele sealed Hoffenheim's 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin which put them third in the Bundesliga and set up a mouth-watering clash against leaders Bayern Munich next week.

Suele's 31st-minute header on Sunday gave unbeaten Hoffenheim their fifth win in nine games.

"It was a cool feeling to score, more so as it was an important goal, which meant we could celebrate with the fans," said Suele.

"We have got an exceptional squad with a great atmosphere and if we keep playing like this, it'll be a super season."

The win leaves Hoffenheim four points behind Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern, who they play in Munich next Saturday.

The tie at Munich's Allianz Arena will pit two teams unbeaten against each other after Bayern's 3-1 win at Augsburg on Saturday.

Having battled relegation last season, this is the highest Hoffenheim have been in the German league table for two years.

The turnaround in their fortunes is mainly down to the hard work of their 29-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann, the youngest coach in the Bundesliga's history.

"We were clearly superior, apart from the ten minutes after the half-time, I am very satisfied," said Nagelsmann as Hertha's Vedad Ibisevic went close on several occasions immediately after the break.

"We're take everything at the moment, but we're not talking about the table, only about our performances," he added with a view to the Bayern showdown.

Hertha were punished for a poor second half, while Hoffenheim should have added a late second, but Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric fired straight at Hertha's Norway goalkeeper Rune Jarstein two minutes from time.

Suele, 21, grabbed the winner when the giant centre-back got on the end of Kerem Demirbay's curling free-kick.

With an eye on the 2018 World Cup, the strapping centre-back is in the plans of Germany's head coach Joachim Loew.

Suele, who won a silver medal when Germany lost the Olympic final to Brazil in the Rio, made his senior international debut in September's 2-0 friendly win over Finland, Bastian Schweinsteiger's 121st and final appearance.

Sunday's defeat cost Hertha third place and was only their second loss having also been beaten by Bayern in Munich this season.

Hertha coach Pal Dardai took off Ibisevic, the club's top scorer so far this campaign with six league goals, for the final 10 minutes, for Tunisia striker Sami Allagui, who made his 100th Bundesliga appearance.

Apart from Bayern in first place, there is an unusual look to the top four with RB Leipzig, who won 2-0 at Darmstadt on Saturday, still second and unbeaten with six wins and three draws in their debut Bundesliga season.

Cologne's striker Anthony Modeste (C) and his teammates celebrate on October 30, 2016 play

Cologne's striker Anthony Modeste (C) and his teammates celebrate on October 30, 2016

(AFP)

Later on Sunday, Cologne went fourth with a 3-0 win at home to ten-man Hamburg, who stay bottom of the table, as Anthony Modeste netted a hat-trick.

France's Modeste, the league's top scorer with 11 goals in nine games, was credited with the opening goal, despite getting barely a touch on Simon Zoller's pass-cum-shot on 61 minutes.

It came three minutes after Hamburg had USA international Bobby Wood sent off when the striker elbowed Dominique Heintz in the stomach and the Cologne defender dropped to the turf.

Modeste added a second goal when he headed home a cross on 82 minutes and wrapped up the treble in superb style when he latched onto Marcel Risse's long ball and his shot beat Hamburg goalkeeper Rene Adler on 86 minutes.

Modeste's hat-trick made up for his failed first-half penalty attempt which clattered off the post.

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