Germany: Bundesliga
FT
2 - 1
(0 - 1)
Leverkusen
Hoffenheim
R. Andrich (88), P. Schick (90)
M. Beier (33)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Leverkusen sustain undefeated season with another spectacular comeback win

Despite the fact that two of five Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs ended in goalless draws, there was still plenty of excitement over on the world's best footballing beat Saturday afternoon. Xabi Alonso's have - just as they did twice after returning from the last league break - captured all three points via a spectacular late game-winning goal in second half injury time.

VfL Wolfsburg and SC Freiburg join Leverkusen as winners on this day after shutting out respective opponents SV Werder Bremen and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt, RB Leipzig, and FSV Mainz 05 all failed to score goals in the pair of 0-0 results that rounded out the action.
League leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen have once again dug deep to produce another stunning late comeback victory. Xabi Alonso's Werkself - presumed by most German league watchers to be destined to end FC Bayern München's 11-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga title - delivered yet another championship-worthy performance in front of their hometown fans at the BayArena. The team's undefeated streak, in serious jeopardy right up into the final two minutes, now extends to 39 matches across all competitions. A potentially insurmountable lead at the top of the table is restored.

Xabi - given a standing ovation from the BayArena crowd after openly committing himself to Leverkusen for another season yesterday - opted to make three changes to the XI that lined up against Freiburg just prior to the international break. Edmond Tapsoba, Robert Andrich, and Jonas Hofmann replaced Josip Stanisic, Exequiel Palacios, and Adam Hlozek on straight swaps in Alonso's regular league 3-4-3. TSG trainer Matarazzo dismantled the 3-4-3 that performed so ineffectively against Stuttgart in the previous round, reformatting to a 3-4-1-2 with Andrej Kramaric and Ozan Kabak getting nods over Kevin Akpoguma and Ihlas Bebou.

A brave start from the BaWü guests didn't end up yielding particularly much. Within ten minutes, the league leaders looked to be in control of the match with plenty of possession and a crisp short-passing game. Granit Xhaka forced the first save out of Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann via a fine distance effort in the 11th. Hofmann and Florian Wirtz generated further chances in the ensuing minutes. Despite some sharp incursions from both players into the penalty area, however, a compact TSG defense was able to largely repel the Bayer attack. Traffic still remained mostly one-way and it counted as a surprise to see the visitors snatch the lead in the 33rd.

German wunderkind Maximilian Beier notched his 13th league goal of the campaign on the 1-0. The newly called up (though not yet capped) German senior team international took advantage of some sloppy Leverkusen defending at the back. A not necessarily pretty give-and-go combo with Wout Weghorst on the half left proved sufficient to net the opening goal. B04 skipper Lukas Hradecky wasn't at his best attempting to stop the shot. The hosts mounted an immediate response in defensive of their undefeated season. TSG net-minder Baumann nevertheless stood tall on a pair of efforts near the end of the half to preserve the scoreline.

Baumann was on hand to prevent a pair of decent Werkself chances from going in after the restart. Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong, and Alejandro Grimaldo all dazzled with some fancy footwork on steady Leverkusen attack charges. A very deep defending TSG side were still generally able to either scrape the final finish away or ensure that Baumann had enough time to position himself to save the last effort. Xabi introduced the always lively Amine Adli in order to bolster the attack down the stretch. Striker Borja Igelsias also came on for defender Piero Hincapie as part of a bold late 4-3-3 re-format.

While Adli and Wirtz got the ball close to the line with more fantastic dribbles, the equalizer still would not come. The best chance for the Westphalian hosts came in the 76th when - after some fine set-up work from Wirtz and Adli - Patrik Schick failed to beat Baumann from close range. It genuinely appeared as if there not yet be another opportunity for the would-be champions. The threat to Leverkusen's undefeated campaign remained urgent right up until the final two minutes of normal time.

The 1-1 came in the 88th. A cleverly and quickly played short corner enabled Robert Andrich to find the back of the net following a sharp cross from Wirtz and an equally fine headed layoff from Tah. Less than three minutes later, a Schick tally completely turned the game around. The Czech striker polished off a cross from substitute Nathan Tella at 90+1. A 13-point lead at the top of the table is now restored thanks to the dramatic 2-1 late win. Record champs FC Bayern München retain very little hope of catching up.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, two top-tier sides in the midst of head-coaching regime shifts were able to secure victories. New VfL Wolfsburg trainer Ralph Hasenhüttl won his debut match in charge of Germany's green company team. Defender Maxence Lacroix scored what proved to be game-winning goal, and also managed to ejected from a league fixture for the third time this season, in a 2-0 win over SV Werder Bremen.

SC Freiburg trainer Christian Streich's "farewell tour" also got off to the best possible start. The departing SCF gaffer, like Hasenhüttl, presided over a shutout victory. The Breisgauer easily dispatched what still appears to be a terribly confused and devoid of confidence Gladbach side 3-0 at Borussia Park. The result broke a string of four consecutive league draws between the two teams in the league. Freiburg move up into the UECL spot with the victory.

The other two simultaneous kickoffs regrettably only produced goalless draws. The pair of 0-0s did a pair of European aspirants no favors. Eintracht Frankfurt remain nine points off Dortmund in sixth place after only taking a point of visiting Union Berlin. RB Leipzig move ahead of Dortmund in the top-four race for now, but only on goal differential. Leipzig and Dortmund both stand on 60 points after Marco Rose's Red Bulls couldn't score against Mainz.

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