TSG Hoffenheim’s supporters got to see their team create many good chances during the first 45 minutes of the encounter at home against Bayer Leverkusen. It took less than seven minutes before the visitor’s goalkeeper Bernd Leno had to produce a top save to keep the Werkself in the game when Roberto Firmino took advantage of a defensive error and created the first real opportunity of the day. But Leverkusen made a strong comeback in the second half and took completely over the game. And they got what they deserved: 18-year-old Julian Brandt found Stefan Kießling in the penalty area after some 80 minutes of action at the Rhein-Neckar Arena, and the centre forward made no mistake when he scored the first and only goal of the day, his third this Bundesliga campaign.
Surprisingly, the score was still at 0-0 after the first half in Sinsheim. Both teams had good opportunities to open the scoring, but Heung-Min Son (Leverkusen), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim) and Stefan Kießling (Leverkusen) all failed to find the net. Goalkeepers Bernd Leno and Oliver Baumann both had a busy day at work, but could take a break after 45 minutes of play without conceding.
Baumann however, could not relax for long. The former Freiburg player had to show his worth immediately in the second half when Gonzalo Castro tried to give his side the lead, but the 24-year-old made an easy but still important save. Baumann had to be awaken anew after 73 minutes of play when a ridiculous dive by Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who prior to the game had a cold and until the last minute wasn’t sure if he could take part in the game, was awarded with a free kick by referee Daniel Siebert. Çalhanoğlu’s attempt from just outside the box was however not as good as his corner in the first half which nearly found the net, and was fired straight at the wall.
Leverkusen continued to create some good chances in the second half, but it wasn’t until 18-year-old Julian Brandt entered the field of play that they managed to actually score. The Bremen-native had been on the field for only a couple of minutes when he got the ball out wide, and found Stefan Kießling in the penalty area, who could easily put the ball into an empty net.
The small but noisy section of Leverkusen fans could finally celebrate a well-deserved goal, but what is a victory without any drama? Hoffenheim gave everything they had towards the end of the match to get an equalizer, hence they even sent up Baumann to take on something of an offensive centre back position for a while, and they got close. Kevin Volland got the last chance of the day in extra time when he fired the ball towards the net from inside the penalty area. Leno made a quick save however, and made sure Leverkusen got to leave the Rhein-Neckar Arena with three points.
TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann, Beck, Bicakcic, Kim, Schwegler, Rudy (replaced by Schipplock, 84 min), Firmino, Strobl, Volland, Elyounussi (replaced by Zuber, 57 min), Szalai (replaced by Modeste, 87 min)
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Boenisch, Toprak, Spahic, Hilbert, Castro (replaced by Rolfes, 85 min), Bellarabi (replaced by Öztunali, 90 min), Çalhanoğlu (replaced by Brandt, 76 minutes), Bender, Kießling, Son
Total shots: 9 – 18
Shots on target: 7 – 9
Completed passes: 168 – 308
Possession: 40 – 60
Corners: 1 – 10
Offsides: 1 – 1
Fouls conceded: 16 – 19
Yellow cards: 1 – 3 (Hoffenheim: Strobl. Leverkusen: Hilbert, Bender, Boenisch)
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