Bayer Leverkusen’s winning start to the season came to an end after they were frustrated by Hoffenheim in a hard-fought goalless draw at the BayArena.
Leverkusen had scored six goals in their opening two games and they completely pinned back the visitors early on. But despite the home side monopolising possession, Hoffenheim had the best first-half chances. Much of the threat the visitors offered came from Ishak Belfodil, who was making his first start after recovering from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in May. On 14 minutes he cut the ball back to the onrushing Pavel Kaderabek, whose goalbound effort was inadvertently deflected wide by his own teammate Ihlas Bebou. Belfodil then raced clear down the right approaching the half hour mark but the 27-year-old – who scored 16 league goals last season – chose to try and pick out Bebou rather than shoot and the chance was gone.
Belfodil threatened again at the start of the second half but the Algerian was unable to beat Lukas Hradecky. Leon Bailey fired into the sidenetting at the other end from a tight angle before both sides created good openings in the 59th minute. Belfodil curled wide from the edge of the area and then Kevin Volland’s first-time hit from near the penalty spot after a good pick out from Bailey went inches past the post. Former Hoffenheim midfielder Nadiem Amiri almost made an instant impact from the bench but couldn’t steer the ball on target from Bailey’s brilliant left-wing cross. Karim Bellarabi had a dangerous volley diverted from danger by Stefan Posch and the winger then hit the post with a cross in what was a much better second half. Oliver Baumann denied Sven Bender and Kai Havertz from close range as Leverkusen relentlessly pressed for the win, but Hoffenheim survived six minutes of injury time to leave with a hard-earned point – Kevin Akpoguma heading wide late on from their chance to snatch all three.
Watch: Bailey: "We were unlucky in the end"
- Leverkusen had 20 attempts on goal to Hoffenheim’s six.
- Former Hoffenheim striker Volland has played a part in four of Leverkusen’s six goals this season (one goal, two assists and created the own goal against Düsseldorf).
- Amiri and Kerem Demirbay both joined Bayer from Hoffenheim in the summer. The former had recorded 11 goals and 15 assists in 105 Bundesliga games for TSG, while the two-time Germany international registered 12 goals and 22 assists in 73 Bundesliga appearances.
- Since Bosz took over at Leverkusen, they have won 41 points from their 20 Bundesliga games. Only Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig have amassed more in that time.
- Hoffenheim beat Leverkusen 4-1 twice last season. Belfodil bagged a brace in the most recent encounter, inflicting the heaviest-ever Bundesliga defeat on Bosz as a coach.
- Three of Hoffenheim’s five Bundesliga wins over Leverkusen have come at the BayArena, where there have been 40 goals scored in 11 meetings.
Leverkusen: Hradecky – L. Bender (c), Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aranguiz (Baumgartlinger 89') – Bellarabi, Havertz, Demirbay (Amiri 63'), Bailey – Volland (Alario 62')
Unused subs: Özcan, Dragovic, Paulinho, Diaby, Sinkgraven, Weiser
Out: Pohjanpalo (ankle)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Posch, Vogt (c), Bicakcic (Akpoguma 73') – Kaderabek, Rudy, Grillitsch (Samassekou 83'), Stafylidis – Geiger – Bebou, Belfodil (Locadia 62')
Unused subs: Pentke, Brenet, Rupp, Bittencourt, Skov, Lucas Ribeiro
Out: Kramaric (knee)
Coach: Alfred Schreuder