Manager Holger Stanislawski made three changes to the side which drew 1-1 at home to Freiburg last weekend. Due to their being left out of the matchday squad for disciplinary reasons this week, Chinedu Obasi and Roberto Firmino were replaced in the team by Fabian Johnson and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Andreas Beck also returned from suspension to captain the side at right-back. Stani employed a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Daniel Williams in front of the defence and Dutchman Ryan Babel leading the attack.
The home side got things underway and the game got off to a rather low-key start. Far from being the explosive game that fans were anticipating, both sides negotiated the opening few minutes in a cautious fashion. The first good chance of the game fell to the home side, when Eren Derdiyok's flick was kept out by an agile stop from Tom Starke (7). Jannik Vestegaard, in his first Bundesliga start for Hoffenheim, was then called into action to block an effort by Sven bender, before the Werkself went 1-0 up. André Schürrle struck a speculative free-kick from distance, which Starke could only parry into the path of Derdiyok, who headed in the rebound from close-range. Hoffenheim were rattled, but almost provided an instant reply just four minutes later. Gylfi Sigurdsson unleashed a trademark drive from distance, but his effort drifted just wide of Bernd Leno's goal (14).
It was an even game and both sides enjoyed spells of possession. Schürrle was causing problems down the wings for the TSG defence, but Peniel Mlapa was also a constant threat for the away side. On 33 minutes, he powered down the right-hand side and sent in a fizzing cross, which Ryan Babel was unable to convert from close range. Six minutes later, Mlapa went on a similar run, this time on the left. After receiving a pass from Marvin Compper, the Germany U21 international beat Daniel Schwaab with a dribble, but his cross was too close to Bernd Leno and the goalkeeper was able to gather at the feet of Babel. Despite the high number of fouls being committed by both sides, 1899 were finding space and creating chances, and went into the half-time break encouraged with the way they had come back into the game.
Stani opted against making any changes for the start of the second half, with the obvious message to his team being to play with more intensity. The message did not fall upon deaf ears, as Hoffenheim upped their level. Sejad Salihovic, pulling the strings in midfield, drew a yellow card from Gonzalo Castro, while Leverkusen had Manuel Friedrich to thank for a last-ditch challenge on Babel after a superb through ball from Salihovic (54). At the other end, when the back four was breached, Starke was on hand to deny Schürrle with a strong save with his legs (58).
Stani made his first substitution of the evening just before the hour mark, bringing on Zimbabwean Knowledge Musona for Fabian Johnson. The change seemed to lift the away team further. Compper, playing at left-back, was finding plenty of space in the Leverkusen half, and drew a yellow card for Derdiyok for a cynical foul. The Swiss striker was soon replaced by Simon Rolfes, and it took until the last 20 minutes until the home side staged another attack. But the Hoffenheim defence remained firm in defending a series of Leverkusen corners.
Vedad Ibisevic was also introduced by Stanislawski in an attempt to turn the possession into a goal, but it was it was the home side that struck the next blow. In the 79th minute, Leno launched a long kick upfield, which was flicked on by Stefan Kießling and Sidney Sam ran in to lift the ball over the onrushing Tom Starke in the Hoffenheim goal. Despite having the lion's share of possession in many periods of the match, Hoffenheim found themselves 2-0 down. Compper and Ibisevic had late efforts to register what would have been a consolation goal, but Leverkusen held on for the three points.
Stanislawski's team can return to winning ways next Saturday when they travel to 1. FC Nürnberg.