Bayer 04 Leverkusen missed the chance to edge closer to a top-four spot after a disjointed display in drawing 1-1 away to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Goals: 1-0 Hamad (40'), 1-1 Toprak (75’)
The hosts went into the game bottom of the table, so it was no surprise that coach Huub Stevens employed safety-first tactics initially, instructing his side to sit deep and stifle their visitors. There was very little goalmouth action as a result, with a glancing header from Leverkusen striker Stefan Kießling the only notable chance in the first 35 minutes. Although the guests controlled the game, it was Hoffenheim who took a surprise lead when Jiloan Hamad scored with an outstanding volley from the edge of the area just before the interval.
The second half was a livelier affair and Hamad and Eduardo Vargas both had excellent chances to double Hoffenheim’s advantage, but neither was able to beat Bernd Leno. They proved to be costly misses too, as Leverkusen’s pressure eventually took its toll when Ömer Toprak headed in from close range after the hosts failed to clear a corner. Kießling and Kevin Kampl had chances late on as Bayer pushed for a winner, but ultimately the draw was a fair result.
Man of the match
Vargas put in an excellent all-round display for Hoffenheim, providing a vital outlet up front to relieve some of the relentless pressure his side were under. The Chile international made more sprints than anyone else while he was on the pitch (27), completed 72 per cent of his passes and won 50 per cent of all challenges.
This was Hoffenheim’s eighth draw of the season – a league high - and was enough to take them off the foot of the table. If Stevens’ men can reproduce the defensive stability and bold attacking edge they showed in the second half, they should steer well clear of relegation.
- Leverkusen covered 112.92 kilometres collectively, Hoffenheim 112.88.
- Hamad’s strike was his first ever Bundesliga goal.
- Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez had just 33 touches of the ball over the 90 minutes.
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Kaderabek, Schär (c), Süle, Kim – Rudy, Strobl – Volland (Uth 77’), Hamad (Amiri 79’), Schmid – Vargas (Kramaric 83’)
Leverkusen: Leno – Jedvaj (Donati 68’), Toprak (c) (Ramahlo 86’), Tah, Wendell – Bellarabi (Brandt 67’), Kramer, Kampl, Calhanoglu – Hernandez, Kießling