Germany: Bundesliga
FT
1 - 1
(0 - 1)
Hoffenheim
RB Leipzig
A. Kramarić (90)
B. Šeško (38), X. Simons (72)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Kramaric nicks late point for Hoffenheim against ten-man Leipzig

RB Leipzig were able to weather the loss of Xaver Schalger (injury) and Xavi Simons (ejection) and nearly hold on for a slender 1-0 victory away at Hoffenheim on Friday evening.

A late strike from Andrej Kramaric - who had been in hot water following an alteration with TSG fans last week - nevertheless delivered a point to the Sinsheimers; who may still hope to qualify for Europe.  

Though - ironically enough - Borussia Dortmund's Champions' League win over PSG on Wednesday rendered the issue of UCL qualification moot, RB Leipzig have increased their chances for top-four finish with a point gained TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday night. Marco Rose's German Red Bulls remain six points ahead of fifth-placed Dortmund following the victory in the 2023/24 German Bundesliga's round 32 curtain-raiser. RB remain behind VfB Stuttgart by one point in the battle for third place. Sebastian Hoeneß' Swabians face second-placed FC Bayern München tomorrow.

Rose made just one change to the XI that bested Dortmund last week. Benjamin Henrichs took over to replace Mohamed Simikan at right back. TSG trainer Pellegrino Matarazzo, on the other hand, went with four to changes to the side that lost to Bochum last Friday night. The Sinsheimers maintained their 3-5-2 shape with Ihlas Bebou, Anton Stach, Kevin Akpoguma, and Marius Bülter replacing Wout Weghorst, Umut Tohumcu, Tim Drexler, and Robert Skov on straight swaps. Weghorst was unfortunately unavailable on short notice due to private reasons. 

The hosting Kraichgauer - in stark contrast to last week - remained tightly organized and hardly allowed Leipzig much of a chance to achieve much penetration. Matarazzo's men lurked dangerously on the counter, twice generating decent chances on the break via Kramaric. It appeared as if Hoffenheim's Croat attacker might pick up right where he left off late in the Bochum loss and score the opening goal for his side. Shortly after Kramaric's second scoring chance, however, RB took the lead. 

David Raum was accorded far too much space on the left flank in the 38th. Benjamin Sesko was able to glance in the former Hoffenheim professional's cross for the 1-0. To their credit, the hosts did attempt to mount an immediate response. Efforts from Bebou and Grischa Prömel nevertheless didn't find the back of the net and the Kraichgauer headed into the locker room trailing. A flurry of promising TSG attack waves after the restart similarly produced nothing as finishing from the Sinsheimers was simply too sloppy. 

The Saxons were reduced to ten-men for final 18 minutes of the match when Xavi Simons was sent off on double yellows. It still appeared as if this would not be enough to help Hoffenheim score the equalizer. Kramaric failed to convert a wonderful opportunity by not following through with an attacking run in the 86th. Kramaric managed to redeem himself as the match entered injury time with a headed finish of a Bülter cross for the 1-1.

The point gained does bump Hoffenheim up to the second Europa League place, but Freiburg, Augsburg, Werder Bremen, and even Heidenheim all have a chance to overtake Matarazzo's before the weekend is out. Hoffenheim, part of the relegation field last season, are hoping to qualify for Europe for the first time since a 2020/21 Europa League berth. 
 

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