Eintracht Frankfurt travelled to Sinsheim to take on Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in the first clash of Matchday 15 of the Bundesliga. In the same fixture last season it ended in a 0-0 stalemate; the match largely overshadowed by the red card received by Hoffenheim striker, Anthony Modeste.
The hosts have faded as of late after a great start; the side from Sinsheim have only got 3 points from their last 5 games, a fact that leaves them 8th heading into tonight’s match. Last Friday saw a 1-0 defeat away to Jürgen Klopp's, Borussia Dortmund; following this defeat manager, Markus Gisdol made two changes to his side's starting line-up. In came Anthony Modeste and Tarik Elyounoussi for Sebastian Rudy and Sven Schipplock. The Rhein-Neckar-Arena has proved to be a good hunting ground for Gisdol's side, with 4 of their 5 victories coming at home.
Eintracht Frankfurt have been in great form as of late. Die Adler have won their last three games, away to Borussia Mönchengladbach, at home against Borussia Dortmund and a 5-2 mauling of Werder Bremen. Thomas Schaaf only made one change, one he was forced into; Veteran 'keeper Timo Hildebrand replacing Felix Wiedwald; who is out with Glandular fever. The Eintracht attack has been in potent form heading into the match, scoring 10 goals in their last 3 games. To add to that, the hosts have also conceded an average if 3 goals over their last 5 Bundesliga games; something which will have filled Alex Meier & co with confidence heading into the match.
There was a disappointing scene early on as promising Germany defender, Niklas Süle had to be stretchered off with what looked to be a rather innocuous injury. The early portion of the entertainment on offer to 30'000 or so fans somewhat ruined. We wouldn't have to wait long after for the first chance of the game, as only 10 minutes later Hoffenheim would go close through Anthony Modeste. Andreas Beck whipped in a good searching ball, which the French striker got his head on to, but the veteran Hildebrand did well and kept the hosts out.
It looked as if the scores would be level heading into the break, as neither side had called either 'keeper into serious action. However, in the 36th minute from out of nowhere, highly rated Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino found Tarik Elyounoussi charging towards Hildebrand in the Eintracht goal. The Norwegian looked certain to score, but unfortunately for the hosts it edged wide.
This chance seemed to spark the match into life and only a few minutes later to deadlock would be broken. Again, Firmino set up the attack, however this time it was to Hoffenheim's other winger, Kevin Volland. The German international calmly rounded Hildebrand and gave his side a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
The second half began in the same fashion the majority the first half had been played; with neither side once again putting either 'keeper under any pressure. However, just as in the first period a goal would come out of nowhere, This time it would be for Die Adler. The Hoffenheim defence failed to clear the ball after an Eintracht attack, the ball fell to Makoto Hasebe who found Bastian Oczipka who played in a great ball which Stefan Aigner expertly finished; cue jubilant celebrations from the 3'000 or so travelling fans from Frankfurt.
Just as Volland's goal had set the home-side into life, Aigner's goal did the same for Die Adler. It looked as if Eintracht would take the lead shortly after, but they were denied by a huge slice of luck. Frankfurt born American international, Timothy Chandler crashing an effort of the crossbar.
However, just when it looked like the visitors would go on to take command in the game, the hosts would regain control and would have some chances of their own. In the 65th minute the returning Ádám Szalai would crash an effort of the fortunate Hildebrand. But that save would count for nothing less than 60 seconds later.
Once again Andreas Beck whipped in a good looking ball, which was met by Kevin Volland; the ball rebounded off the Eintracht 'stopper to an unmarked Szalai only a few yards out. Despite the suspicion of offside the Hungarian was allowed to continue and easily restored his sides lead.
It seemed to be compulsory that when you scored you had to take command and after Hoffenheim's second, there was no exception. Firmino once again the provider and for the second time, Elyounoussi fluffed his chance. The Norwegian would come closer in the 76th, this time hitting the post; on another night the winger signed from Rosenborg could've had a hat-trick.
Elyounoussi would live to regret his latest miss just over a minute later; when Haris Seferović bullied the ball past the Hoffenheim defence. A long searching ball found on-loan Chelsea starlet, Lucas Piazon who picked out Seferović. The Swiss international slammed his first effort on to Oliver Baumann, but bundled his second effort into the back of the net. That goal certainly set up for a grandstand last 15 minutes.
The visitors went close through Bastian Oczipka, his effort went agonisingly close for Thomas Schaaf's side. However, Die Adler would be left to rue thier misses as in the 87th minute Hoffenheim would take the lead for the third time! The ball landed in and around the box, Szalai gladly accepted the invertation but a brilliant save by Hildebrand kept the ball out. The ball fell back to the Hungarian who improvised brilliant and back-heeled the ball to Firmino would couldn't miss from 3 yards out. Surely Hoffenheim had won it at the death!
Thomas Schaaf through on young attacker Sonny Kittel in a desperate attempt to salvage a point. It looked to have paid off, as the same player jinked through the Actzehn defence; but thankfully for Markus Gisdol, Baumann saved brilliantly.
The result sends Hoffenheim above tonights opponents into 7th place, whilst Eintracht drop to 8th. Next up for Markus Gisdol and Hoffenheim is the visit of Bayer Leverkusen in midweek. For Thomas Schaaf's side it's a home match against Hertha Berlin.