BERLIN -- With a new coach in charge, Hoffenheim seized a lifeline in its fight for Bundesliga survival with a 3-0 win over fellow relegation-candidate Fortuna Duesseldorf on Friday.
The home side got off to a great start in Markus Gisdol's first game when Roberto Firmino crashed his shot in off the underside of the crossbar in the 11th minute.
Duesseldorf fought hard for an equalizer and almost levelled in the 68th, when Dani Schahin just failed to reach Robbie Kruse's cross to convert from close range.
"I can't accuse anyone on the team of lacking any effort. Quite the contrary," Duesseldorf midfielder Axel Bellinghausen said.
The visitors were dealt a blow when Duesseldorf's Andreas Lambertz headed Sejad Salihovic's corner into his own net with 15 minutes remaining.
Kevin Volland rounded off the scoring on another counterattack in injury time, when Salihovic played him through to go past the goalkeeper.
Hoffenheim, which fired coach Marco Kurz and manager Andreas Mueller on Tuesday, cut the gap on Duesseldorf in the league's last remaining safe place to six points.
"We saw a very good fighting performance from the side today," said Gisdol, a former Schalke assistant. "We still have a lot of work ahead of ourselves."
Hoffenheim goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes went off in the second half in apparent pain to his hand after a challenge from Lambertz. The Brazilian was undergoing hospital tests to determine the extent of his injury.
"Despite everything we have to keep getting points. It was very important that we started today," Hoffenheim defender Andreas Beck said.