4-2 in Sinsheim – Werkself seal Champions League qualification

There were celebrations in Sinsheim as Bayer 04 won 3-2 at TSG Hoffenheim to qualify for the Champions League with one match to spare, and for the 13th time in the club’s history. Hoffenheim led 2-1 at the break thanks to goals from Georginio Rutter (22’) and Christoph Baumgartner (36’) either side of Patrik Schick’s strike (34’), but Moussa Diaby (73’), Schick again with a great solo effort (76’) and Lucas Alario (90+1’) completed a second-half turnaround.

There were suitably happy and elated celebrations between the players and the 1,500 travelling supporters at full time. “It’s something great,” said Jonathan Tah. “It’s been a season of ups and downs for us, but we never lost belief in ourselves, no matter what was thrown at us.” Sporting director Simon Rolfes added: “We’ve achieved our big objective. I’m proud of the team.” And the outstanding Schick declared quite rightly: “No one can criticise us for anything today.”


Head coach Gerardo Seoane saw no reason to change the team that won 2-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday, naming the same starting eleven. Bayer 04 were again without long-term absentees Florian WirtzAmine AdliTimothy Fosu-Mensah and Karim Bellarabi, as well as Kerem Demirbay who missed the Frankfurt match with a toe injury. On the positive side, right-back Jeremie Frimpong was included in the squad for the first time since his syndesmosis tear in the derby against FC Köln in March.


The equation was simple ahead of kick-off at the PreZero Arena: one more win from the final two Bundesliga matchdays would guarantee the Werkself a place in the Champions League – irrespective of results involving rivals Freiburg and Leipzig.

The hosts created the first opportunity, Rutter warming the gloves of Lukas Hradecky with a shot on the turn in the penalty area (4’). Hoffenheim were active and aggressive to begin with, with the Werkself having defending to do but countering dangerously. The ball came to Paulinho via Sardar Azmoun and Diaby, but his shot from a tight angle was no trouble for TSG goalkeeper Oliver Baumann (8’). Diaby then played a neat through-ball to Azmoun, but Stefan Posch managed to get a leg in the way to prevent the Iranian running free on goal (20’).

TSG capitalise on mistake

Instead, it was TSG who opened the scoring out of the blue. After Piero Hincapie needlessly conceded possession, Baumgartner drove into the penalty area and squared it to Rutter, who effortlessly stuck the ball into the bottom corner (22’). Bayer 04 were visibly knocked back and needed a while to regroup, but then Charles Aránguiz played a quality pass to Paulinho, whose attempted ball to Patrik Schick was intercepted (29’).



joy short-lived after equaliser

Five minutes later, however, Hincapie released Diaby down the line and his cross at full speed was guided in under the bar by Schick with a skilful dropkick (34’) – a brilliantly worked equaliser, goal No. 23 for the Czech and assist No. 12 for Diaby, who set a new club record for a season. The joy was short-lived, though. When Bayer 04 thought they’d dealt with an attack, TSG broke through with a second wave down the right and Pavel Kaderabek’s cross at the far post was headed in by Baumgartner from close range past a surprised Hradecky and Odilon Kossounou  (36’). 2-1 to Hoffenheim, which is also how the first half ended.

Bayer 04 made a switch at the break with Mitchel Bakker replacing Hincapie. It took just 20 seconds for the visitors to produce their first attempt on goal, but Aranguiz’ shot trickled past the far corner (46’). Soon after, Schick unleashed a fierce shot with his left foot, but Baumann got down in good time to parry it (51’). Bayer 04 were now much more positive in their attacking play but still had to be on their guard at the back – Hradecky managed to tip Mu’nas Dabbur’s header over the bar with an excellent save (54’). At the other end, Baumann fended off Robert Andrich’s blind shot on the turn, with Jonathan Tah blasting over the rebound (57’). A combination of Leverkusen players thwarted Andrej Kramaric’s overhead kick (63’).


super Schick makes it 3-2

Seoane then made a double substitution, bringing on Lucas Alario and Exequiel Palacios for Azmoun and the injured Andrich (64’). Diaby found space down the right but his right-footed finish sailed past the corner (65’). Soon after, the pressure paid off when Alario flicked on the ball for Schick, who played it into the path of Diaby, and the Frenchman controlled the ball brilliantly before arrowing it past Baumann to make it 2-2 with his 13th goal of the season (73’). And Bayer 04 followed that up in ruthless fashion: Schick forced his way past two Hoffenheim defenders in a tight space and regained his balance after stumbling before rounding Baumann and sliding the ball into the empty net (76’). World-class play from the striker, who is going for Stefan Kießling’s record of 25 goals for a season.

Alario puts the cherry on the cake

TSG were then unlucky that Jacon Bruun Larsen struck the post immediately after coming on – and Bayer 04 had another let-off when Kramaric failed to hit the target from the follow-up (79’). Schick missed one further chance to net a hat-trick before being replaced by Daley Sinkgraven, while Julian Baumgartlinger also came on for Paulinho (84’). The Werkself weren’t done yet, and made it 4-1 in stoppage time when Palacios combined with his Argentinian compatriot Alario, who fired home (90+1’). It was also the Werkself’s 78th goal this season – beating the club record of 77 from the 2001/02 campaign. The final whistle was met with pure joy from Seoane’s men and the jubilant Bayer 04 fans, who celebrated sealing third place.


The Werkself end the season next Saturday (14 May) with a home game against SC Freiburg with a 15.30 CEST kick-off at the BayArena. It will be another great day for the Werkself bidding farewell to sporting managing director Rudi Völler with Champions League qualification in the bag.

Match stats:

TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann – Kaderabek, Posch, Vogt, Raum – Samassekou (Bruun Larsen 78’) , Stiller, Baumgartner (Rudy 69’) – Rutter (Bebou 55’), Dabbur (Skov 69’), Kramaric

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie (Bakker 46’) – Andrich (Palacios 64’), Aránguiz – Diaby, Azmoun (64. Alario), Paulinho (84. Baumgartlinger) – Schick (Sinkgraven 84’)

Goals: 1-0 Rutter (22’), 1-1 Schick (34’), 2-1 Baumgartner (36’), 2-2 Diaby (73’), 2-3 Schick (76’), 2-4 Alario (90+1’)

Referee: Frank Willenborg (Osnabrück)

Booked: Dabbur

Attendance: 20,033

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