Head coach Gerardo Seoane made four changes to his starting line-up compared with the 5-2 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt: Odilon Kossounou, Exequiel Palacios, Kerem Demirbay and Karim Bellarabi came in for Jeremie Frimpong (one-match ban), Robert Andrich, Charles Aranguiz and Amine Adli (all on the bench).
The Werkself started the game well and had the first opportunity to take the lead after 120 seconds: Moussa Diaby set up Patrik Schick with a great chip pass but the 25-year-old was unable to control the ball – TSG keeper Oliver Baumann was able to intervene (2'). A few minutes later, Florian Wirtz appeared to have made it 1-0. However, the youngster was clearly offside when he received the ball so the strike was chalked off (5'). And the visitors? There was little sign of action up front in the opening stages – the only notable move saw Ihlas Bebou hit an effort from 15 yards out way over Lukas Hradecky's goal (11').
The ball twice hit the woodwork within seven minutes in the middle of the first half – at either end: First, Palacios hit the outside of the post following a free kick (28') and Hoffenheim central defender Chris Richards hit the bar from a corner (35').
Bayer 04 striker Schick was more accurate a minute later: Diaby flew down the right wing and crossed from the byline for his Czech teammate to score with a tap-in at the far post – 1-0 for the Seoane team (37'). The Black and Reds were within a whisker of extending the lead before the half-time break but Baumann pulled off two impressive reflex saves to deny Schick and Wirtz on 41 minutes.
The team under coach Sebastian Hoeneß, with two fresh players coming on for the second half in the shape of Pavel Kaderabek and Angelo Stiller, certainly upped their game. Werkself skipper Hradecky saved a shot from Andrej Kramaric from close range five minutes after the restart. Jonathan Tah and Co. were then mostly able to keep TSG away from their own penalty area. At the other end, Bellarabi had a great chance to make it 2-0 from a whipped-in cross by Diaby but Baumann was again able to make the save (59'). Moments later, Patrik Schick once again demonstrated his eminent qualities as a striker: Piero Hincapie crossed from the left into the penalty area where the 6 foot 3 forward beat his markers to head the ball into the top left corner – the lead doubled (63').
TSG responded to going further behind with the third shot against woodwork on the night: Kramaric hit the left-hand post from a cross (66'). The Black and Reds wanted to avoid a thrilling end to the game but Baumann had something against that. First of all, the Hoffenheim goalkeeper kept out a Wirtz header (70') and then he was able to save a powerful shot from Diaby from a tight angle (71').
The Hoeneß team sensed their chance after Baumann's saves – and they did get back into the game: First, substitute Angelo Stiller pulled a goal back from an impressive assist by Kevin Vogt (80'), and three minutes later it was another substitute, Munas Dabbur, who levelled the scores with a back-heel (83') – a tragic drama in the closing stages from a Bayer 04 perspective.
Diaby was shown a second yellow card in added time for a foul on Florian Grillitsch. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. The Werkself remain third in the Bundesliga. Kerem Demirbay and Co. are back in league action on Sunday, 19 December (kick-off: 15.30 CET) with an away game at SC Freiburg. It is the last match before the winter break.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Kossounou (Retsos 82'), Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Palacios, Demirbay (Aránguiz 64') – Bellarabi (Adli 64'), Wirtz (Andrich 82'), Diaby – Schick (Alario 90’)
Hoffenheim: Baumann – Vogt, Grillitsch, Richards – Akpoguma (Kaderabek 46’), Rudy (Stiller 46’), Samassekou (Adamyan 82’), Raum – Baumgartner (Rutter 67’) – Kramaric, Bebou (Dabbur 67’)
Goals: 1-0 Schick (37’), 2-0 Schick (63’), 2-1 Stiller (80’), 2-2 Dabbur (83’)
Booked: Kossounou, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Rudy, Raum, Dabbur
Sent off: Diaby
Referee: Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
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