Super Eagles defender Akpoguma returns in style with goal as Hoffenheim beat Schalke in six-goal thriller

Nigeria international Kevin Akpoguma announced his return to fitness with a goal for Hoffenheim against Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga on Saturday.

The defender also got his first goal of the season as Hoffenheim fought back to win 4-2.

The hosts were dominating, but it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play, when Suat Serdar picked out Mark Uth’s clever run; the ex-TSG man had all the time in the world to stroke past Oliver Baumann for 1-0. Hoffenheim looked to hit back, with Mustafi producing another fine tackle to deny Bebou and Robert Skov testing Fährmann with a floating free-kick. Baumgartner should then have done better when picked out in the area by Kramaric, but half-volleyed over the bar, and a few minutes later Schalke doubled their lead. Bastian Oczipka whipped in a corner, and Mustafi – seriously impressive at the back – headed in off the post for his first goal in Royal Blue. Amine Harit could even had made it 3-0 but dragged wide of the post, before Skov whistled another free-kick wide and Stefan Posch headed over at the end of an entertaining first half.

Hoffenheim had slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Schalke in January’s reverse fixture, but looked determined not to suffer the same fate, kicking off their fightback just after the restart. Skov went off at the break, so Kramaric stepped up to take a free-kick just outside the area, and curled it brilliantly into the top corner for 2-1. The Croatia forward then sent in a corner that the returning Kevin Akpoguma looped over Fährmann and into the back of the net, with the Schalke keeper getting fingertips to the ball but unable to claw it out. It was a similar story on the hour mark – this time, Kramaric delivered a free-kick that Baumgartner met with his head, with Fährmann once again getting a hand to it, and the ball once again rippling the net. The Royal Blues were suddenly on the ropes and Hoffenheim delivered a knockout blow four minutes later, with Bebou firing in after a tidy exchange of passes between Sargis Adamyan and Florian Grillitsch. The home side could even have added gloss to the scoreline, with Diadie Samassekou blazing over the bar, but were content to defend a 4-2 lead as they boosted their hopes of finishing in the top half of the table.

Akpoguma scored his first Bundesliga goal in his 67th top-flight outing.

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