Tuesday, February 7

Leverkusen suffer fourth straight defeat, Bremen knock off Dortmund in sensational comeback


Germany: Bundesliga

C. Baumgartner (9), A. Kramaric (35), G.Rutter (78)

By Peter Vice

The 2022/23 Bundesliga table looks not-at-all as expected following another set of highly intriguing 15:30 kickoffs. Late drama in Dortmund and Augsburg saw SV Werder Bremen and FSV Mainz 05 pull off sensational late wins.

Meanwhile, the slow starts continue for high value clubs Leverkusen and Wolfsburg. Germany’s two “company teams” remain winless through three rounds of Bundesliga action.

One of the Bundesliga’s projected “Top-Five” teams finds itself in crisis after dropping their second consecutive home league match. Bayer 04 Leverkusen fell 0-3 to Hoffenheim at the BayArena Saturday. Germany’s red company team, after an embarrassing early Pokal exit, have now lost four straight on the trot. Die Werskelf have the dubious honor, along with VfL Bochum, of being one of two Bundesliga clubs not to have picked up a single point this season.

Bayer trainer Gerardo Seoane, having to deal with a cascade of unfortunate injury news this week, did get some good news in the form of the return of midfield linchpin Robert Andrich. The gritty veteran returned to the starting XI, as did previously suspended captain and keeper Lukas Hradecky. Die Werkself lined up in the same 4-2-3-1 as last week with Sardar Azmoun operating as a ten behind Patrik Schick. Moussa Diaby and Adam Hlozek flanked the Iranian from the usual subdued wing positions.

Hoffenheim head-coach André Breitenreiter made two personnel changes from last week’s win over Bochum. Georginio Rutter returned to replace Jacob Bruun Larsen while Kevin Akpoguma took over for Stanley Nsoki in defense. The visiting Kraichgauer lined up in what looked like a tight 3-52. Grischa Prömel and Christoph Baumgarter buttressed the striking tandem of Rutter and Andrej Kramaric. Skov and the newly acquired Angelino worked as the wingbacks.

The NRW hosts were certainly agreed to the lion’s share of early possession, yet appeared timid and insecure past the halfway line. Leverkusen were able to generate an early shot on target in the 7th. Within a couple of minutes, however, the guests grabbed the lead. A sensational bit of interplay in the box involving Prömel and Bamgartner ended with the Austrian attacker heading home the 1-0 in the 9th. Faced with yet another early deficit, Seoane’s men looked rattled and failed to muster up a response.

In the 35th, Ozan Kabak effectively embarrassed the hosts with a long run. The newly-acquired defender picked up a half clearance and strode unperturbed into the penalty area. The Turkish center-halve then picked out a wide-open Kramaric for the 2-0. The guests continued to pummel Leverkusen over the next ten minutes. Another goal from Robert Skov, luckily from the perspective of the hosts, was disallowed after video review for a Kabak foul in the lead-up.

Seoane opted for two changes at the half, bringing Kerem Demirbay and Exequiel Palacios on for Hlozek and Charles Aranguiz. In a scene almost too comical to be believed, Azmoun managed to clear his teammate’s effort off the line on the 51st. Schick directed an effort on target that was clearly going in past the beaten Oliver Baumann. Azmoun, with his back towards goal, redirected the sure-goal in the wrong direction.

Foul stoppages and multiple substitutions impeded the match flow over the next 25 minutes. Hoffenheim began to achieve some penetration after the affair passed the 70-minute mark and one had the feeling that another goal was forthcoming. Rutter finally grabbed the 3-0 in the 78th. Kramaric played the Frenchman in well and Rutter easily beat substitute Mitchel Bakker in a one-vs-one duel before hammering home an emphatic finish. The game was decided.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga’s 15:30 kickoffs, newly promoted SV Werder Bremen presently Dortmund with a strong challenge over at Signal Iduna Park. The hosts were a bit lucky that Julian Brandt was able to snatch a 1-0 halftime lead following a sluggish performance in the opening 45. The BVB again had difficulty weathering an ambitious Bremen attack in the second half. Raphaël Guerreiro finally came to the rescue with the 2-0 in the 77th.

The result didn’t seem fair at all, considering that Dortmund led by converting what were basically their only two notable scoring chances. Incredibly enough, Ole Werner’s Hanseaten pushed through a remarkable three-goal-comeback in the waning minutes. Substitute Lee Buchanan pulled back a presumed consolation goal in the 89th. Substitute Nico Schmidt restored parity at 90+3. Then, just as he did last week, substitute Oliver Burke scored at 90+5. The 3-2 comeback was complete.

Bo Svensson’s FSV Mainz 05 were able to santch a late victory over at FC Augsburg’s WWK Arena. A match that seemed destined to end in a 1-1 draw for quite some time concluded 2-1 when substitute Jae-Sung Lee headed home the winner at 90+3. The FCA’s outstanding keeper Rafal Gikiewicz did what he could to help his team survive a very late onslaught, but ultimately couldn’t keep out the winning goal.

In some less exciting affairs over at the and Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen Arenas, SC Freiburg were able to eke-out a 1-0 win over Stuttgart while Wolfsburg-Schalke ended in a goalless draw.

More about the match

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hoffenheim preview: Can Die Werkself end their run of defeats?

More about the teams

Hoffenheim’s Kabak ready for stability after endless loan spell
Hoffenheim to bring Cordoba back to Germany?
Predicted Bundesliga lineups: Matchday 3
Report: Leverkusen rule out Aranguiz transfer
Pohjanpalo left out of Leverkusen squad as Venezia move draws closer
Confirmed: Pohjanpalo transfers to Serie B


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