1899's winless run continues against Leverkusen

Borussia Dortmund will have to wait a little while longer to secure the Bundesliga title, as Hoffenheim were unable to offer a helping hand against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 31. Despite starting well and taking the lead through Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Kraichgau outfit succumbed to the quality of the team in second, as Kadlec and Vidal both scored to guide the home side to a 2-1 victory.

1899 head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli had a lot to contend with given that he could only muster up a 16-man squad for the trip to the BayArena. Andreas Ibertsberger, Chinedu Obasi, Tobias Weis, Sejad Salihovic, Boris Vukcevic, Josip Simunic and Manuel Gulde were all unavailable for the 42-year old. However, Pezzaiuoli did find space for fan favourite Gylfi Sigurdsson in the starting line-up after he was the last minute hero earlier in the season against Leverkusen. The move saw Vedad Ibisevic drop to the bench, as Andreas Beck returned from suspension and golden boy Roberto Firmino, who scored the winner against Frankfurt, kept his place in the starting eleven.

Sigurdsson puts on a show

Staying compact and transitioning quickly was the order of the day for Marco Pezzaiuoli's charges, given the difficulties Bayer 04 had when FC Bayern München played in a similar style last weekend. The home side were allowed to control possession, while 1899 sat back looking to exploit counter-attacking opportunities. It led to a well contested opening few minutes with few chances. Mlapa did test Rene Adler within the opening five minutes after good link-up play with Ryan Babel, while Alaba's free-kick approaching the twenty minute mark was wide of the target. It was evident that the disappointing defeat against the reigning champions was still playing on the minds of the Leverkusen players as they struggled to create an opening causing the fans to get restless.

The mood was only exacerbated before the half hour when Gylfi Sigurdsson finally broke the deadlock. The Icelandic international picked the ball up in midfield, nutmegged Kadlec, rode a challenge with Vidal and Hyypiä before capping off the solo effort with a great finish low into the far corner. The home side tried to respond and Kießling went close from Sam's set-up, only to be thwarted by Tom Starke in goal. Sigurdsson almost added a second when a misplaced pass allowed him to run onto the ball and strike a fierce effort that could only find the post. However, sometimes the key to a difficult attacking performance is a set-piece opportunity and Leverkusen didn't hesitate in putting theirs away. Five minutes before half time Vidal found an unmarked Kadlec with a corner and ghosting in between four Hoffenheim players he planted the header past Starke, levelling the game up just before the break.

Bayer not interested in wasting time

Leverkusen manager Jupp Heynckes opted to make an unorthodox attacking change during the break bringing on Eren Derdiyok for captain Simon Rolfes. However, Bayer 04 started the second half exactly how they finished the first and seemed determined to take the lead as soon as possible. Kießling missed the first opportunity five minutes in, but moments later Vidal made up for it after an unfortunate moment of calamitous defending inside the Sinsheim side's penalty area. Babel caused the confusion by getting himself in two minds in the box and when he tried to clear he only hit his own player. It led to a scramble in the box and when Isaac Vorsah failed to deal with the problem under pressure from Kießling, the Chilean international was on hand to slam home for the lead. With the home side in the ascendency, Hoffenheim were defending valiantly, but chances to get forward were limited for the Kraichgau outfit.

Having taking the lead Leverkusen's impetus going forward became more and more reserved as 1899 struggled to get to grips with the match against a solid Bayer backline. The home side were having the most joy by using the space on the wings as they continued to test Hoffenheim's back four. Starke was still determined to do his part though as he pulled off a fantastic save from Kießling after he linked up perfectly with Renato Augusto. Hoffenheim's only threat was coming from dead ball situations, but even those weren't truly testing Adler in goal. Kießling then had another opportunity to score with a headed effort, but is just wasn't to be for the German striker as the game ended with Vidal's goal proving the winner. The result sees Hoffenheim fail to win against Leverkusen on the sixth time of asking, but definitely demonstrated promising play for long periods of the match. All that's needed are the finishing touches.

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