Hoffenheim has found itself in a Champions League position after topping Hannover 96 at home 3-1 behind a hat-trick by Andrej Kramaric.
The first of the game came 16 minutes in as a terrible back-pass by defender Salif Sane failed to reach the goalkeeper and instead fell straight into the path of Serge Gnabry who eluded a charging Philipp Tschauner and touched to Kramaric for the tap-in. Gnabry was actually hurt on the play and had to be removed minutes later.
Hannover leveled things up after just eight minutes, but Kramaric was there to give Hoffenheim the lead back five minutes after the halftime break. On a corner, the outswinger evaded the pack but fell to 26-year-old Croatian who produced a fabulous volley to send a rocket into the back of the net.
And yet somehow, his third was even better. A long ball forward saw Kramaric go up against two defenders, and instead of taking them head-on, seeing Tschauner cheating forward, he dinked the ball past the two defenders, over the goalkeeper’s head, and into the back of the net. A wonderful goal that sealed the deal in the 86th minute and put Hoffenheim into fourth place in the Bundesliga table, a Champions League position.
Just a point behind them is Bayer Leverkusen who will play on Saturday against Stuttgart at home hoping to regain that position. Should Hoffenheim gain control, they would be gunning for the club’s second Champions League place in club history, with the first coming this season as they finished fourth the previous year as well. They were eliminated from the Champions League playoff round by Liverpool before finishing last in their Europa League group of SC Braga, Ludogorets, and Istanbul Başakşehir.
And there’s a shake-up at the bottom of the table after American striker Aron Johannsson’s substitute heroics moved Werder Bremen 14th.
Werder Bremen 1-0 Hamburg
USMNT strikers Johansson and Bobby Wood started on the bench for the hosts and visitors, respectively, as Werder Bremen and Hamburg dueled for critical points in the race to avoid relegation to 2.Bundesliga.
Wood entered the game in the 77th minute, but was upstaged when Johannsson again played super sub for Werder Bremen. The Icelandic-Alabamian’s shot pushed through the keeper and onto the doorstep for Johannes Eggestein to slide over the line.
It looked offside, but withstood all protests and reviews. Werder is now 3-1 in its last four matches, all featuring significant contributions from the previously rarely used Johannsson.
Aron Jóhannsson played a big part in the game-winning goal for Werder Bremen!
Andrej Kramaric scored for the fifth time in four matches to give the hosts a lead just after halftime, but Freiburg star Nils Petersen scored in the 66th minute to give the visitors a point and him 12 league goals on the season.
Hannover 96 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer scored his second goal of the season to give the visitors a 72nd minute lead, a 90-minute win, and positioning to potentially negotiate European qualification with a strong finish to the season.
Elsewhere Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg — Friday
Bayern Munich 0-0 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
RB Leipzig vs. Koln — Noon ET Sunday
Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg — 2:30 p.m. ET Monday
It was a good day for Premier League clubs in the Capital One League Cup, as ten teams won to advance into the third round.
The only PL club to fall today was newly promoted Watford, who lost 1-0 to Championship side Preston North End. The Hornets have gotten points in all three of their Premier League matches, but are now out of the League Cup in disappointing fashion.
Sunderland 6-3 Exeter City: Jermain Defoe bagged a hat trick in a wild game at the Stadium of Light, as Sunderland came out on top of a match that was tied 3-3 at halftime. Despite the win, conceding three goals at home to a team from the fourth-tier of English football is not a good look for Dick Advocaat’s side.
Luton Town 1-1 (7-8 PKs) Stoke City: The Potters looked poised to move on until Luton Town found an equalizer in the 91st minute to force extra-time. The match went to penalty kicks, where the USMNT’s Geoff Cameron scored the game-winning goal for Stoke City.
Aston Villa 5-3 (a.e.t.) Notts County: Adama Traore scored his first goal as a Villan, while Scott Sinclair tallied a hat trick to lead Aston Villa to a shaky win over Notts County. The League Two side led three times, but Villa fought back to escape an embarrassing defeat.
Bury 1-4 Leicester City: Twenty-year-old Joe Dodoo scored a hat trick in his Foxes debut, as Andrej Kramaric scored his first goal of the season for Claudio Ranieri’s men.
Crystal Palace 4-1 (a.e.t.) Shrewsbury Town: Tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, Crystal Palace scored three goals in extra-time to defeat third-tier Shrewsbury Town.
Hartlepool United 0-4 Bournemouth: The Cherries were up 3-0 at halftime as Eddie Howe’s side cruised to an easy win over League Two’s Hartlepool.
Newcastle United 4-1 Northampton Town: Florian Thauvin scored his first goal for Newcastle just three minutes into the match, as the Magpies found themselves up 2-0 after eight minutes and never looked back.
Preston North End 1-0 Watford: The only Premier League side to fall today, Watford fell behind within ten minutes and failed to find an equalizer in a very poor result for Quique Flores’ side.
Rotherham 1-2 Norwich City: Ricky Van Wolfswinkel scored his first goal for Norwich City since his debut in 2013 as the Canaries held on to beat Championship side Rotherham United.
Swansea City 3-0 York City: A second-string Swans’ side made light work of fourth-division York City, with goals coming from Nathan Dyer, Matt Grimes, and Marvin Emnes.
West Bromwich Albion 0-0 (5-3 PKs) Port Vale: West Brom just scraped by League One’s Port Vale, as the Baggies needed extra-time and then penalty kicks to advance to the third round. With Saido Berahino possibly on his way out at The Hawthorns, getting held scoreless for 120 minutes shows West Brom may be in for some trouble.
Other results from around the League Cup
Birmingham City 2-0 Gillingham
Burton Albion 1-2 (a.e.t.) Middlesbrough
Doncaster Rovers 1-4 Ipswich Town
Fulham 3-0 Sheffield United
Hull City 1-0 Rochdale
Peterborough United 1-4 Charlton Athletic
Portsmouth 1-2 Reading
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Carlisle United
Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Oxford United
Walsall 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Barnet
MK Dons 2-1 (a.e.t.) Cardiff City
Heading into the 2015-16 Premier League season, Harry Kane is one of the favorites to win the Golden Boot following his 21-goal haul last season. But before Kane burst onto the scene at White Hart Lane last fall, he was a relatively unknown forward who was still battling for a spot on Spurs’ roster.
With the new season kicking off tomorrow, we’re taking a look at some players who could follow in Harry Kane’s footsteps and have themselves a breakout campaign in the Premier League.
The list consists of ten players, and is in alphabetical order by club. It was tough to narrow it down, so let us know in the comments if you agree with the picks, or who you think should have made the cut.
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa (pictured above) — Grealish got a shot in the first team under Tim Sherwood towards the end of last season, and was one of the big reasons why the Villans survived relegation. His performances were highly impressive and the 19-year-old was immediately tabbed as the future of Aston Villa. Heading into 2015-16, Grealish will have a full season to showcase his talents and could officially assert himself as a star in the Premier League.
Patrick Bamford, Crystal Palace (on loan from Chelsea) — After signing with Chelsea in 2012, Bamford will finally get his shot in the Premier League at Crystal Palace. The 21-year-old has spent the past few seasons on loan, and was named Championship Player of the Year last season at Middlesbrough, scoring 19 goals in all competitions. He’s shown he can compete with the best, scoring the game-winning goal in Middlesbrough’s upset win over Manchester City in the FA Cup last January. He’s already netted a hat-trick for Palace in preseason, and playing with the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie at Selhurst Park, Bamford could have a real quality campaign for Alan Pardew’s side.
Andrej Kramaric, Leicester City — The Foxes dished out a record transfer fee to bring Kramaric to Leicester during the January transfer window last season, and this year he could prove his worth. The 24-year-old striker had a prolific goalscoring record in Croatia, bagging 55 goals in 66 appearances for Rijeka before moving to the Premier League. Chelsea was also rumored to be interested in signing Kramaric last season, which shows how highly-rated he is. With Leicester likely to be in a relegation battle throughout the season, Kramaric could be the difference if the Foxes want to stay up.
Jordon Ibe, Liverpool — Ibe began last season on loan with Derby County, but was recalled in February after impressing in the Championship. At 19-years-old, the winger is lightning quick with excellent feet, very similar to a certain Raheem Sterling. Now with Sterling at Manchester City and Ibe on a new long-term contract with the Reds, he’ll have a much more prominent role in 2015-16.
Andreas Pereira, Manchester United The 19-year-old midfielder was the star player for Brazil in the U-20 World Cup this summer, and he’ll be hoping that form carries over into the Premier League. Louis van Gaal gave Pereira a solid run in United’s preseason tour, and was the Red Devils’ most impressive youngster throughout the summer. He has shown he has the talent to become a top-tier player, but his biggest challenge will be finding minutes with United’s deep lineup. Should he find his way onto the pitch, look for Pereira to have an immediate impact.
Aleksander Mitrovic, Newcastle — After leading the Belgian Pro League in scoring last season with 28 goals, Mitrovic made a $20 million move to Newcastle over the summer. Papiss Cisse scored 11 times in 2014-15 and was the only consistent attacking threat for the Magpies, as Mitrovic will be asked to score early and often under Steve McClaren. Only 20-years-old, the Serbian is known for having a bit of a temper, but could become a hero at St. James’ Park if he keeps up his goalscoring record.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Newcastle — Staying at St. James’ Park, Georginio Wijnaldum was one of the best summer signings in the Premier League. At 24-years-old, Wijnaldum is coming off a season in which he captained PSV to the Eredivisie title while being named Dutch Footballer of the Year. Most of the Newcastle attack will likely run through Wijnaldum, who has the ability to score goals while also setting them up. Owner Mike Ashley splashed $23 million for the Dutchman, who could prove to be an elite talent in the PL.
Joselu, Stoke City — The 25-year-old is heading into his first season in the Premier League after making a $9 million move to Stoke City, the most money spent for a player under Mark Hughes. The Spaniard played under Jose Mourinho during his time at Real Madrid, and showed his potential by scoring in both of his two first-team appearances. For the Potters he’ll likely play up high with Bojan sitting in behind him which could work wonders, as the two played together in Spain’s youth setup.
Bafetimbi Gomis, Swansea City — The Frenchman scored just seven league goals last season for Swansea, his lowest output since 2006. Heading into his second season at the Liberty Stadium and with Wilfried Bony at Manchester City, Gomis will be the top striker for Garry Monk from day one. He has the ability to score 15+ goals for the Swans, and he’ll have to if they want to push for another record-breaking season in Wales.
Erik Lamela, Tottenham — Last season was Lamela’s first full campaign with Tottenham, and it was hugely disappointing. Spurs’ record signing ($45 million in 2013) showed flashes of brilliance, but failed to find consistency in his game, which had people calling for a move away from White Hart Lane. This season, Lamela can silence the critics and show he was worth the hefty price tag, as the Argentine is vital to Spurs’ push for success both domestically and in Europe.