Sinsheim - A late winner from Roberto Firmino gave TSG 1899 Hoffenheim a 3-2 win over a spirited Eintracht Frankfurt in Matchday 15's curtain-raiser.
Modeste fails to convert
A Hoffenheim-dominated first half brought the opener minutes before the break when Kevin Volland slotted home. The visitors hit back immediately after the restart through Stefan Aigner, and although Adam Szalai gave Markus Gisdol's men the lead again, Haris Seferovic restored parity for a second time. Roberto Firmino popped up at the last, however, to ensure a memorable win for the hosts.
With Hoffenheim and Frankfurt averaging 3.5 goals per game this season, it was unsurprising to see an open encounter develop, with chances for both sides from the outset. Aigner should have done better when he got in behind in the fourth minute, while former Frankfurt star Pirmin Schwegler came close with a long-range strike shortly afterwards.
Striker Anthony Modeste was vital to Hoffenheim’s approach, and although the Frenchman was getting into promising positions, his first touch let him down on several occasions. Despite that, the 26-year-old had two chances in quick succession in the 18th minute, one of which he fired over, the other he could only guide at Frankfurt debutant Timo Hildebrand. The Eagles' top scorer Alexander Meier then went close with a volley, but the lion’s share of the chances were falling at the other end as Modeste sent an acrobatic volley wide of the target.
The hosts upped the ante after the half-hour mark, and both Schwegler and Jin-Su Kim came close from dead-ball situations before Tarik Elyounoussi sent a golden opportunity inches wide in the 36th minute. Seven minutes later, after another Eintracht attack had broken down, Firmino led a counter at blistering pace and within seconds Volland was rounding Hildebrand to give Gisdol’s side a deserved half-time lead.
It was all change after the restart as the Eagles came out all guns blazing in an effort to find the equaliser. The visitors were moving the ball about with poise on the edge of the Hoffenheim box, and Meier should have done better when he was teed up by Seferovic in the 54th minute. Hoffenheim’s defensive shortcomings were plain to see, and Frankfurt took advantage when Bastian Oczipka’s low cross was cleverly converted by Aigner from close range for his second goal in as many games.
Firmino the hero
Eintracht ramped up the pressure after the equaliser as Timothy Chandler hit the bar and Aigner failed to convert a header. Despite Schaaf’s men enjoying more of the possession, Hoffenheim restored their lead against the run of play in the 66th minute when substitute Szalai made no mistake from a yard out after Schwegler’s original effort was denied.
Elyounoussi had two chances to increase the lead as the 70-minute mark passed. He put the first inches wide, and followed it up by hitting the post. Minutes later, Eagles' substitute Lucas Piazon's glorious pass found Seferovic, and the Swiss international slotted past Oliver Baumann at the second attempt to equalise. Despite their two comebacks, it wasn't to be for Schaaf's valiant visitors, as Firmino poked past Hildebrand in the 87th minute to earn his side all three points.
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