Roberto Firmino scored two goals and set up another as TSG 1899 Hoffenheim beat Kaiserslautern 3-1 in the first leg of their Bundesliga playoff on Thursday.
The winners of the two-leg showdown play in the German top flight next season.
Mohamadou Idrissou’s goal in the 58th minute gives Kaiserslautern hope for the second leg at home on Monday.
Firmino struck in the 11th and 29th minutes, then provided the pass for substitute Sven Schipplock’s goal in the 67th.
Hoffenheim finished 16th in the top tier, while Kaiserslautern were third in the second division.
Erwin Hoffer had a chance to put Kaiserslautern ahead in the fifth minute, but goalkeeper Koen Casteels turned away his shot.
Firmino scored by diverting a free-kick from Sejad Salihovic from close range. The Brazilian doubled the lead after a good run by fullback Andreas Beck, who sent a low cross across the area and Firmino netted at the far post.
Idrissou scored off a good through pass from Alexander Baumjohann, but Schipplock sealed the win two minutes after coming on.
He won the ball from Marc Torrejon, passed to Firmino, who slipped it back to Schipplock and he drilled the ball inside the near post.
Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisddol said his side were in a “comfortable position,” but his counterpart Franco Foda said his team are capable of scoring “two or three goals” at home.
“Hoffenheim had four shots at goal and scored three. We made one mistake too many,” Foda said.