KENYA BROWN - Tuesday, January 12, 2021
It was Matthew Hoppe's as he bagged his first hat-trick as a professional in Schalke's win over Hoffenheim to finally break their long-suffering winless run.
Schalke 4-0 Hoffenheim
Most young players can only dream of having a day that Matthew Hoppe had as he secured his first hat-trick in his fledgling career with Amine Harit adding one in Schalke's much-needed win over Hoffenheim at the Veltins Arena.
Hoppe, who has been given a chance with the Royal Blues' first team this season as the club tries to get their house in order, started and played 88 minutes he should be seeing further action in the months to come based on his performance in the game.
After going 30 games without a win, something had to give for Schalke as they have struggled both on and off the field during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they did not play like a struggling team this time under the watchful eye of new head coach Christian Gross.
The California native looked dangerous early on in the game when he was given his first opportunity to open the scoring in the 13th minute. Harit made a deep into the area with the ball on the left side before passing it to a wide-open Hoppe, but he put his foot under the ball and it sailed over the bar.
The Moroccan-American connection would be an ongoing threat against the visitors throughout the course of the game, and they would eventually break the scoreless deadlock in the 42nd minute. Sead Kolasinac headed the ball to Harit to launch a counter-attack from Schalke's end. He then played Hoppe into the area with a delicate through-ball, and the teen showed composure to chip the ball over goalkeeper Oliver Baumann and into the goal.
Any young player may be happy with scoring just scoring their first professional goal, but Hoppe's day was far from over as he had much more left in the tank.
Harit once again provided the assist to the 19-year-old to double the host's lead in the 57th minute. In a somewhat similar fashion to the first goal, the midfielder again played a through-ball to Hoppe, but this time, he rounded Baumann to slot the ball into the open goal.
Hoffenheim only had themselves to blame for getting burned by through-balls in the game, and Schalke hit them once again in the 63rd minute. Harit found Hoppe and the young American did the rest as he sealed his hat-trick to the delight of the Schalke bench.
Harit got his name on the scoresheet in the 79th minute to add to his three assists on the day as Schalke looked like world-beaters at least on this occasion.
The win lifts Schalke off the bottom of the Bundesliga standings, but they still have a long way to go if they want to avoid the drop to the second tier.
In other Bundesliga action, John Brooks and Wolfsburg had to play the second half with 10 men, but they were able to save a point in their 2-2 tie with Union Berlin. Julian Ryerson would come on to play the final four minutes for the capital team.
Gio Reyna got the nod for Borussia Dortmund and played 90 minutes in their 3-1 win over Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig.
Josh Sargent played 81 minutes for Werder Bremen as they had to settle for the 1-1 tie with Bayer Leverkusen.
Timothy Chandler had a spot on the bench as he watched Eintracht Frankfurt come away with the 2-0 win over Mainz.
In the 2. Bundesliga, Julian Green went the distance while Timothy Tillman watched on from the bench for Greuther Furth as they failed in their chance to take the top spot following their 3-2 defeat to Karlsruher.
Jann George played the full 90 minutes for Jahn Regensburg as their shutout by Bochum in their 2-0 loss.
Leon Flach came off the bench to play 11 minutes for St. Pauli as they shared the points with Holstein Kiel following their 1-1 tie.
Bobby Wood remained rooted to the bench as Hamburg and Nurnberg played out a 1-1 tie.
Down in the 3. Liga, Chris Richards, and Bayern Munich II had to play most of their game down a man as they fell to their crosstown rivals 1860 Munich in a 2-0 loss.
Terrence Boyd played 79 minutes for Hallescher FC while Maurice Malone scored a goal in his 90 minutes of action for Wehen Wiesbaden in their 1-1 tie.
Ryan Malone came on to play the final five minutes for Lubeck in their 2-1 loss to Zwickau.
Both Justin Butler and Jalen Hawkins watched all of the action from the bench as Ingolstadt were able to hold on for the 2-1 win over Duisburg.