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Sports

Hoffenheim Lead Bundesliga as Winter Break Begins

Newcomers Hoffenheim played Schalke to a 1-1 draw in the last match of the Bundesliga's first round of games on Sunday, Dec. 14, and held on to the league's top spot going into the winter break.

Hoffenheim's Matthias Jaissle and Selim Teber celebrate Teber's goal

Hoffenheim enjoyed a two-man advantage late in the match

Hoffenheim came from behind to draw 1-1 with nine-man Schalke 04 on to ensure the surprise newcomers spend the six-week winter break in the warm glow of the German top flight's No. 1 spot.

The single point was enough for Hoffenheim to take over again from temporary leaders Bayern Munich having only been promoted this season.

Selim Teber's curling free kick in the 72nd minute cancelled out Schalke's lead in the 40th from Gerald Asamoah. Asamoah broke through the Hoffenheim defense on a pass from Halil Altintop and rocketed a shot past goalkeeper Daniel Haas.

Referee Peter Gagelmann gives a red card to Jones

Referee Peter Gagelmann had ample work flashing cards of both colors

The game then fell into disarray as the referee upped the league yellow-card average, having Jermaine Jones and Orlando Engelaar sent off in the 57th and 80th minute, respectively, for second bookable offences.

Schalke coaches had to restrain Jones as the player returned to the locker room after he had words with the Hoffenheim bench on his way off the field.

Asamoah and Teber also picked up yellows after a scuffle that ended with most of both team's players at each other.

Hoffenheim sit above champions Bayern Munich, who drew 2-2 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, due to a superior goal difference of four, with both teams locked on 35 points. Schalke are seventh with 27 points. The Bundesliga resumes on Jan. 30 when SV Hamburg host Bayern Munich.

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