Football: Kramaric double helps Hoffenheim up to third

 Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric (left) celebrates next to Hoffenheim's Steven Zuber (centre) and Hoffenheim's Nadiem Amiri (right) after scoring the equalizer from the penalty spot during the German Bundesliga soccer match.
Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric (left) celebrates next to Hoffenheim's Steven Zuber (centre) and Hoffenheim's Nadiem Amiri (right) after scoring the equalizer from the penalty spot during the German Bundesliga soccer match.PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (AFP) - Andrej Kramaric's double helped Hoffenheim to a 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin on Friday (March 31) to boost their chances of Champions League football next season.

The Croatian's brace and a goal from Niklas Suele pushed Hoffenheim into provisional third on 48 points, two clear of fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund who face Schalke on Saturday.

The top three Bundesliga teams gain direct qualification to the Champions League, with the fourth-placed going into the play-offs.

Hoffenheim are coached by Julian Nagelsmann, at 29 the youngest head coach in Bundesliga history who last week was named Germany's manager of 2016.

Under his guidance they are now sitting eight points clear of fifth-placed Hertha who opened the scoring with Nino Pekaric in the 32nd minute.

But Kamaric soon put Hoffenheim back level from the penalty spot.

Hertha's Maximilian Mittelstadt was sent off in the 58th minute for a second booking and Hoffenheim exploited their numerical advantage, with Suele and Kramaric's second completing the win.

Dortmund will be seeking to reclaim third spot in Saturday's 150th Ruhr Valley derby at Schalke.

Leaders Bayern are at home to Augsburg with Carlo Ancelotti's side missing defender Javi Martinez with suspension.

Second-placed RB Leipzig host bottom side Darmstadt.