Hoffenheim secured a place in the Europa League group stage in style on Saturday, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 at the Signal Iduna Park.
Hoffenheim needed just eight minutes to break the deadlock, thanks to a superb finish from Andrej Kramarić. The visitors worked the ball across the box nicely, as the Croatian struck his shot first time with perfect accuracy into the top corner, giving Roman Bürki absolutely no chance.
With Dortmund depleted, Hoffenheim grabbed a second on the half hour mark. It was Kramarić again, primed with acres of space to tap home Robert Skov's cross. Despite protests for offside he was definitely on, as Kramarić made it 10 league goals for the season before half-time.
Kramarić sealed his hat-trick in style after the restart, keeping his cool in front of goal to slot home in style. It went from bad to worse when Mats Hummels conceded a penalty moments later, as Kramarić stepped up once again to duly dispatch for his fourth goal of the afternoon.
It was a ruthless finale to an exhilarating Bundesliga season, as both sides end in the European spots. Dortmund will play in the Champions League group stage for the fifth straight season, while Hoffenheim will play in the Europa League group stage for only the second time in their history.
Key Talking Point
With the title race over and second place secured, Borussia Dortmund were playing for pride, hoping to bow out in style after a difficult season.
But their afternoon could not have gone any worse.
Dortmund were behind inside eight minutes, looking subdued pretty quickly. Yet there was no improvement - every time Hoffenheim went forward, they looked like scoring against a vulnerable, confidence-struck BVB. Their defending was shambolic, often looking as if they were not even trying to keep the visitors at bay.
It got even worse after the break, as their deficit was doubled inside just five minutes. The damage had been done to a disastrous Dortmund, who had well and truly capitulated without a fight. They were spineless at the back and useless up top, registering just four shots on target all afternoon.
The humiliating defeat is the worst possible ending to another underwhelming season, where Dortmund were knocked off the top of the table in August and never returned. Lucien Favre has a huge rebuild ahead of them, the result proving just how much work needs to be done. A damning end to a bittersweet season for Dortmund, which says so much more about the state of the club.
Something simply has to change at Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund Player Ratings
Starting XI: Bürki (5); Piszczek (5), Hummels (4), Balerdi (4); Morey (5), Brandt (5), Witsel (5), Guerreiro (5); Reyna (5), Haaland (5), Hazard (5).
Substitutes: Hakimi (5), Sancho (5), Zagadou (5), Raschl (5), Schulz (5).
Dortmund's (Best?) Player - Roman Bürki
Ironically, the best of the worst for Dortmund was goalkeeper Roman Bürki. He managed to make some excellent saves to reduce the deficit, keeping out a number of Hoffenheim efforts with some great stops. That being said, to concede four goals on home turf is concerning, and the Swiss should have done better in saving the penalty among others.
Key Talking Point
Hoffenheim travelled to North Rhine-Westphalia aiming to seal a European berth, and they did that in some style. The visitors were ruthless right from the first whistle, a lovely team move capped off by Kramarić's stunning finish. Time after time, achtzehn99 looked dangerous going forward, cruising into a two-goal lead before the break.
They needed just five minutes after the break to make it four, and by then the job was complete. Hoffenheim blitzed Dortmund and blew them away, a complete performance with beautiful attacking football and a solid defensive display to keep their clean sheet for the afternoon.
Hoffenheim - and Kramarić in particular - deserve huge credit, in what was one of their best performances of the entire season. They have thoroughly earned their place in next year's Europa League, and they will definitely be one to watch for the next season after the perfect end to their Bundesliga campaign.
Hoffenheim Player Ratings
Starting XI: Baumann (7); Posch (7), Grillitsch (8), Hübner (7); Kadeřábek (7), Rudy (7), Samassékou (6), Kramaric (10*), Skov (8); Bebou (7), Dabbour (6).
Substitutes: Baumgartner (6), Zuber (7), Bruun Larsen (6), Bikackic (N/A).
Star Player - Andrej Kramaric
There is only one man who can claim Hoffenheim's star man award, and in fact the man of the match award. Andrej Kramarić was absolutely brilliant at the Signal Iduna Park, as everything he touched turned into goals. He had four shots on target all afternoon and scored with each one, showing his range of abilities with a cool penalty and a stunning long-range finish among his quartet of goals.