Marko Arnautovic scored a hat-trick as Werder Bremen beat TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 4-1 in the Bundesliga on Sunday, increasing the pressure on Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel.
Hoffenheim remain in the relegation playoff place after their fourth straight defeat and club manager Andreas Mueller did not provide Babbel with any reassurances after what he called an “almost lifeless” performance at home.
“We have to sit down together,” Mueller said. “I can’t answer whether it will go on with Markus.”
Elsewhere, Hamburg SV held on for a 1-1 draw at VfL Wolfsburg later on Sunday, when Rene Adler secured the visitors a share of the points with another commanding performance in goal.
At Hoffenheim, Sebastian Proedl opened the scoring with Werder’s first chance in the 21st minute when he rose above Joselu to meet Kevin de Bruyne’s free-kick.
De Bruyne was involved again eight minutes later, when he played a simple one-two with Arnautovic for the Austria international striker’s first goal.
“Arnautovic showed today what he can do,” Werder coach Thomas Schaaf said. “Now it’s up to him to continue with it.”
Hoffenheim fans began jeering the team as more and more defensive mistakes crept into the game.
Babbel reacted with two substitutions in the 37th minute and was relieved his side did not concede again before the break, as De Bruyne and Nils Peterson both missed chances.
Hoffenheim grabbed a lifeline in the 50th minute when substitute Roberto Firmino set up Sejad Salihovic to score, but Arnautovic scored his second from a free-kick in the 73rd and completed his first Bundesliga hat-trick with a fine individual effort six minutes later, as Hoffenheim continued their worst start to a season since securing promotion to the top flight in 2008.
“The loss is very bitter,” Babbel said. “We wanted to do so much. The first half was very weak. After the third goal, you could see that the lads were deflated. Now we’re concentrating on the [next] game on Friday in Hamburg.”
Despite an inspired personal performance, Adler was frustrated by his side’s lack of consistency.
“It’s not enough to play a sensational game against Schalke  and then only play half a good game here,” Adler said, referring to Hamburg’s 3-1 win on Tuesday last week.
Artjoms Rudnevs sprung the offside trap for Hamburg midfielder Maximilian Beister to open the scoring in the 20th minute, but the game did not spark into life until before the interval.
Milan Badelj should have made it 2-0 when his shot flew near the post, before Adler denied Vieirinha and then Diego went close at the other end.
The home side kept pushing and Simon Kjaer finally equalized in the 68th minute, though Adler was furious not to be awarded a free-kick after he appeared to be impeded by Ivica Olic.
“It’s a clear foul. He held me back,” the goalkeeper said.
Vieirinha struck the post with 15 minutes to go and Wolfsburg missed several clear chances before Adler saved Srdjan Lakic’s header in stoppage-time.
“We played well in the first half, against a good Wolfsburg side. We should have scored the second goal and that would have been the end of it,” Adler said.
Over the weekend, fans in all stadiums curtailed singing and chanting for the first 12 minutes of matches in protest against security proposals proposed by the soccer authorities. Clubs are due to vote on the proposals, designed to reduce violence, on Wednesday next week.