- Demirbay, Wagner and Zuber on target in a 3-0 win.
- Nagelsmann’s men a provisional third.
- Leverkusen’s Volland sent off six minutes into his first encounter against former club.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim pulled up to a provisional third place with a 3-0 win at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Kerem Demirbay, Sandro Wagner and Steven Zuber scored to separate the sides at the BayArena, following Kevin Volland's early dismissal against his former club.
Red cards: Volland (6’)
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez started on the bench for Leverkusen, with Volland ploughing a lone furrow up front against his former club… for all of six minutes. Demirbay took advantage of Leverkusen’s high defensive line to race clear, and Volland - out of position - hauled the midfielder down as the last man, leaving referee Bastian Dankert with no choice but to send him off. Demirbay hit the post with the resulting free-kick, but there was to be no denying the midfielder on Hoffenheim’s next attack. Wagner found his teammate unmarked at the back post and he sold a dummy to Lars Bender before curling the opener into the far corner of Bernd Leno’s goal.
The second half was barely five minutes old when Hoffenheim pulled further clear. Andrej Kramaric whipped a low ball in from the left-hand side and Wagner took advantage of Ömer Toprak’s slip to volley home for 2-0. Bayer coach Roger Schmidt threw Chicharito and Stefan Kießling into the fray soon after, but it was to little avail, with the visitors adding another when Zuber steered home into an open goal after a wicked pass from Wagner had forced Leno out of position.
Man of the Match
Borussia Dortmund academy product and former Turkey youth international Demirbay is finally threating to realise his potential at 23. The diminutive midfielder, nominally left-footed, took his goal well on his right foot to double his season tally. The Ruhr-born man also chipped in with five tackles and 75 fast runs as Hoffenheim defended from the front. On recent performances it seems barely fathomable that he was playing Bundesliga 2 football for Fortuna Düsseldorf last term.
Hoffenheim are beginning to look like genuine European contenders. The players have adapted well to Julian Nagelsmann’s 3-5-2 formation, and although Leverkusen were reduced to 10 men early on, this still qualifies as a scalp to be proud of. The Sinsheim club are a provisional third with 16 points - the club’s best haul after eight games since their maiden Bundesliga campaign in 2008/09, when they led the table at the winter break.
- Hoffenheim remain undefeated in the Bundesliga this season, with four draws since followed by four victories.
- Wagner has been directly involved in 18 Bundesliga goals this season, a record second only to FC Bayern München’s Robert Lewandowski.
- Hoffenheim celebrate victory over Leverkusen for just the third time in 17 games, with their last win over Die Werkself coming back in March 2014.
Leverkusen: Leno - Bender (c) (Wendell 46’), Tah, Toprak (Chicharito 56’), Henrichs - Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz - Brandt, Kampl - Mehmedi (Kießling 56’), Volland
Coach: Roger Schmidt
Hoffenheim: Baumann - Süle, Vogt, Hübner - Rudy (c) (Polanski 58’) - Kaderabek, Amiri, Demirbay (Vargas 78’), Zuber - Wagner, Kramaric (Szalai 65’)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann