Sidney Sam gave Sami Hyypiä’s men the lead, before a bizarre Stefan Kießling effort doubled their lead among widespread disbelief. Sven Schipplock scored a consolation after Roberto Firmino’s penalty was saved and the post was struck twice on a dramatic night in the Bundesliga.
Sam the man
Considering Hoffenheim had scored 20 and conceded 20, averaging five goals per game, their a gung-ho approach to the game was to be expected. Philipp Wollscheid was necessarily alert to track back and head Sejad Salihovic’s free-kick off the goal line, before Bernd Leno got lucky to keep Anthony Modeste out with his legs. Modeste’s next effort was easy pickings for the Leverkusen goalkeeper, but it would be inaccurate to imply it was one-way traffic.
Kießling teed up Sam for a shot which deflected wide after Gonzalo Castro’s deflected shot struck Koen Casteels unwittingly in the chest. Hoffenheim’s Belgian goalkeeper did not have to do much to keep that effort out, but he did too little to prevent Sam from putting Leverkusen in front with a low 20-yard effort which was threaded inside his near post, perhaps unsighted from the German international’s shot.
For Sam - now the Bundesliga’s sole top goalscorer with seven - it was his first strike away from home, but Leverkusen’s lead remained in the balance. Firmino saw his shot deflected over by Stefan Reinartz before the constant threat of Modeste this time got in the way of Andreas Beck’s goal-bound shot, turning it wide. A Kevin Volland goal was then ruled out for offside, ensuring Hoffenheim went in at the break for the first time this season without having scored.
Modeste soon tried to make amends in the second half, heading straight at Leno as the waves of Hoffenheim attacks grew, inspired by the irresistible Volland and Modeste. Gaps inevitably opened up at the back and Kießling popped up in one of them, but failed to get the right direction on Gonzalo Castro’s low cross from the left. Castro decided to go it alone with Leverkusen’s next chance, which was pushed away instinctively by Casteels.
Casteels did not need to get near to Kießling’s header which gave Leverkusen the lead in the most bizarre of circumstances. Like Thomas Helmer’s infamous ‘phantom’ goal for FC Bayern in the 1993/94 season, the German striker’s header actually missed Casteel’s right-hand post, but found a hole in the side-netting on its way into the back of the net. Kießling initially turned away disappointed with the miss, only to see muted celebrations amongst his team-mates.
Hoffenheim took the decision sportingly and set about finding a way back into the game, almost finding one when Firmino was felled inside the area and a penalty was awarded. With regular spot-kick specialist Salihovic off the field, Firmino stepped up and saw his effort saved. The danger was not over as Firmino sent the rebound against the post with Ömer Toprak sending the subsequent rebound against the same upright, a sequence of misfortune which summed up Hoffenheim’s evening, which was at least given some consolation when Schipplock headed in late on.
Line-ups and statistics
Check out Thomas Helmer's infamous 'phantom goal', courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: