Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso win late over TSG Hoffenheim

Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso win late over TSG Hoffenheim

Two late goals and huge celebrations instead of a bitter setback: With the next impressive comeback victory, Xabi Alonso and the record hunters from Bayer Leverkusen have set the next milestone in the championship battle of the Bundesliga. One day after the star coach, who was sought after across Europe, announced that he would stay beyond the end of the season, Bayer achieved another victory with two very late goals from national player Robert Andrich (88th) and Patrik Schick (90th + 1). Team pursuers FC Bayern Munich continue to put pressure on them. Before the game against Borussia Dortmund kicked off in the evening, the series champions were already 13 points behind.

Maximilian Beier (33), who was reportedly also courted by Bayer and was just part of the national team’s squad for the first time, put Hoffenheim in the lead with his 13th goal of the season. But Andrich, Toni Kroos’ new partner in the DFB team, and Schick overcame the outstanding TSG goalkeeper Oliver Baumann late on. Bayer, which has now been without defeat in 39 competitive games with Alonso, who has recently been courted by FC Bayern and FC Liverpool, will host second division club Fortuna Düsseldorf in the semi-finals of the DFB Cup on Wednesday.

The international break wasn’t really relaxing for Leverkusen. As a result of the success, no fewer than 19 players were represented by their national teams, many playing twice. But Alonso had used the peace and quiet at home to rethink his future. And his announcement on Friday caused even more celebration among the Bayer fans. “Thank you Xabi” scarves were sold at the entrances, and there were numerous posters with the coach’s name and hearts on the stands. When the line-up was announced, the coach was greeted extra loudly.

But his team again had to deal with a very compact and disciplined opponent. The Hoffenheim team cleverly closed the spaces, and this is how the picture developed that has been seen very often in the BayArena recently: the action took place almost exclusively in the last 30 meters in front of the visitors’ goal. Bayer played patiently, but often acted without ideas. Regardless of whether it was with lateral shifts or Florian Wirtz’s cleverness, there was initially no way through. There was only one significant chance to score in the first half hour when Wirtz shot just wide from 18 meters (18th).

And then the goal came with Hoffenheim’s first shot on goal on the other side, when Beier, after a nice one-two with strike partner Wout Weghorst, appeared free in front of Lukas Hradecky and then coolly beat him. A stroke of genius almost equalized before the break, but Baumann did an excellent job of parrying Granit Xhaka’s shot from the sideline (42′). Former Hoffenheim player Jonas Hofmann was also denied by Baumann from a tight angle (44′), while national player Andrich headed freely past the far corner (45’+2).

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The pressure remained high even after the break, but Bayer now acted in an unusually hectic and uncreative manner against the passionate Hoffenheim team. There were still chances. But Baumann again held well against Wirtz (54′) and also Schick (76′), a deflected shot from Jeremie Frimpong landed on the goal net (63′), Alejandro Grimaldo slipped freely in front of the goal (68′), Borja Iglesias scored the crossbar (87th). Then Andrich scored after a header from Jonathan Tah. And Schick even followed up with a cross from Nathan Tella and caused the BayArena to shake.

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