The final game of the opening Bundesliga season served up a thriller of high-energy attack and haphazard defending as newly-promoted RB Leipzig came from behind twice to hold hosts TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Leipzig were the better side in the first half despite a nervy opening few minutes, however both keepers were key in somehow keeping it goalless at the break.
Lukas Rupp though put Hoffenheim in the lead early in the second half, but it didn’t last for long as Dominik Kaiser quickly struck back.
Hoffenheim looked like they would win though when Mark Uth scored with just a few minutes left, but in typical Hoffenheim style they couldn’t hang on, with Marcel Sabitzer grabbing a late equaliser.
Limited involvement for returning Olympians
This was a meeting between two of the Bundesliga’s most unloved clubs, resented in Germany for their corporate links and lack of tradition. Hoffenheim are now of course an established Bundesliga side, in their ninth season in the top flight, whilst for Leipzig this was their debut match at this level.
Both were playing their second games of the season after mixed DFB-Pokal results last weekend. Hoffenheim put six past fourth-tier side 1. FC Germania Egestorf/Langreder, with Andrej Kramarić scoring a hat-trick. Leipzig on the other hand were just one of two Bundesliga sides to be knocked out, with Dynamo Dresden coming from behind before beating them on penalties.
Hoffenheim made three changes from the side that played last week, with Olympic silver medallist Fabian Schär, debutant Lukas Rupp and Philipp Ochs brought in, whilst two more new signings in Kevin Vogt and Sandro Wagner also started. Unlike Schär, Jeremy Toljan missed out entirely on his return from Brazil.
Leipzig gave a start to marquee signing Timo Werner, with Emil Forsberg missing out, whilst defender Marvin Compper came into the defence. David Selke, another Olympian, was on the bench. Compper and captain Kaiser are both former Hoffenheim players.
Electric start somehow doesn’t produce goals
The first five minutes could not have been more frantic, as both side’s defences, particularly Leipzig’s, were torn apart. Peter Gulácsi had to be on top form to deny Hoffenheim from a cascade of chances.
In just the first minute he had a double save, getting the ball away from Kramarić before a shot from Sebastian Rudy. And just a minute after that, he was needed again as Rudy shot following a one-two with Uth.
At the other end Sabitzer forced a save from Oliver Baumann, with Kaiser going over on the rebound and Werner also putting over the bar.
Baumann keeps the hosts in it
The game remained open, but Hoffenheim kept blowing the chances that game their way, and Leipzig were starting to look more dangerous. Sabitzer and Marcel Halstenberg combined on the left to set up their next chance. The ball was crossed to skipper Kaiser, but again Baumann was there to keep it out.
They then had appeals for a penalty turned down. Danish striker Yussuf Poulsen saw his shot deflected off Wagner’s foot onto the arm of Vogt. There was clear contact with the ball but there wasn’t much the midfielder could have done about it.
Baumann had to be altert as Leipzig kept putting chances his way. He had to divert a Poulsen header wide, before two more chances late in the half. A Werner shot across the goal was sent wide by a fingertip save from the keeper, whilst his save from Kaiser’s shot soon after was more straightforward.
Hoffenheim had a decent opportunity to take the lead on the cusp of half time, when Rupp was brought down on the edge of the box by Willi Orban, but Rudy’s take from the dead ball was curled over.
Hoffenheim go briefely ahead
More chances came early in the second half. Rupp almost made the most of a Benno Schmitz slip, but he couldn’t get his shot away and Schmitz recovered to clear. Leipzig for their part saw Werner have a chance taken away from him, and had appeals for a penalty when Werner was tugged back by one of Halstenberg and Compper.
But despite being outplayed for much of the game, Hoffenheim would take the lead. A corner from Rudy was insufficiently cleared, and Rupp, who had helped to win the corner in the first place, struck the ball in on the half volley and give his side the lead.
It lasted just minutes. A manic few moments led to both sides launching counters, with Sabitzer launching Leipzig forward. He laid off to Diego Demme, whose ball in to a leaping Kaiser was push in by the former Hoffenheim man. Baumann had had a great game, but he could have done better to stop it.
Leipzig continued to have the better chances, with Sabitzer falling victim to an interception at the key moment, and then he had a header blocked before his strike on the rebound called Baumann into action again.
Hoffenheim blow lead again
With seven minutes left, Hoffenheim took the lead again. Rudy charged through the middle, saw Uth to his left and the forward scored, despite his shot coming off Gulácsi on its way in.
Hoffenheim had their tails up, but Leipzig knew they could still get an equaliser. Massimo Bruno, who had just come on, couldn't quite squeeze a chance past Baumann.
But Leipzig would equalise again. Substitute Forsberg passed to Schmitz, whose cross was placed ahead in front of the Hoffenheim defence and Sabitzer put it in at the far post.
Philipp Ochs and Nadiem Amiri missed out for Hoffenheim in stoppage time, and the game ended with Leipzig claiming they should have had time to take a corner, but 2-2 was the right result from this highly-entertaining tussle.