TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were beaten 2-1 in UEFA Europa League by Ludogorets to cap off a miserable week for Bundesliga sides in Europe.
Pavel Kadeřábek scored inside just the second minute to set Hoffenheim on their way, but an even quicker goal from Svetoslav Dyakov levelled the game straight after the break.
Jody Lukoki then scored a cracking winning to seal a fourth defeat in four for Hoffenheim in European competition, whilst the other five German sides in European action were all also been beaten this week.
Kadeřábek gives Hoffenheim best possible start
Hosts Ludogorets had drawn their opening game in Group C with Istanbul Basaksehir and made two changes from their weekend victory over Septemvri Sofia – Jorge Broun and Gustavo Campanharo replaced Renan and Claudiu Keseru. Hoffenheim, beaten by SC Braga two weeks ago, changed four from their Bundesliga victory on Saturday against Schalke 04 – Lukas Rupp, Eugen Polanski and Nico Schulz were recalled, whilst 20-year-old Stefan Posch was handed a debut by coach Julian Nagelsmann.
The visitors got off to the perfect start. In just the second minute, Kadeřábek jumped on a misguided back pass, supplying it to Mark Uth. Uth then returned the favour with the cross into the box, with Kadeřábek there to tap it in. It was the Czech’s first goal for the club.
Having set one up, Uth then had a couple of opportunities to bag one for himself. One though he put wide and with the other, rather than shooting, he tried and failed to seek out Andrej Kramarić. Hoffenheim were by far the better side by this point, but they would soon see themselves shut out.
Natanael had already had an effort saved by Oliver Baumann, but we was the creator for the best sight of goal they would have in the opening 45 minutes. His ball found Anicet Abel, who rather than hit the target struck awfully wide – a big chance missed.
The hosts were playing good football but without a real clinical edge. Even as they created more chances late in the half, they couldn’t quite take them. A good team move was ended when Lukoki fired over, with Natanael was denied twice in quick succession; a right-footed shot was blocked, with a left-footed attempt on the rebound saved by Baumann.
Hoffenheim have no response to Bulgarians’ fightback
If Hoffenheim’s start to the first half had been quick, Ludogorets’s was electric. Abel and Cicinho combined on the left, before the full-back whipped in a cross. It was headed out by Håvard Nordtveit, but only to Dyakov, who fired in from just outside the box, less than 60 seconds after the restart.
With that the game reached something of a deadlock, although Rupp had a shot saved by Jorge Broun just after the equaliser. The better chances would come again after the hour, as Abel went wide before at the other end a good cross from Uth found Rupp in space, but the shot was tipped over the bar by Broun.
The sucker punch from the Bulgarians would be delivered by Lukoki. Campanharo played the ball through to the Congoese winger, and once he shaped himself to shoot in the box he did just that, aiming for the top far corner and finding it with aplomb, leaving Baumann with little hope.
Hoffenheim still had just under 20 minutes to try to salvage something from this game, but they had been fading away and their cause wasn’t helped by the surprise withdrawal of Uth in favour of Felix Passlack. The damage could have been even worse, if Baumann hadn’t saved a headed from Claudiu Keşerü moments after he had come on. Perhaps if Phillipp Ochs had found someone with his cross in stoppage time it could have been different, but that was not to be the case.