Firmino leads Hoffenheim past Eintracht Frankfurt with late strike

BY Jerry Trecker • December 12, 2014

Goals from Kevin Volland, Adam Szalai and Roberto Firmino got TSG Hoffenheim a much-needed Bundesliga victory Friday night, as they outlasted Eintracht Frankfurt, 3-2 to end a five-match run that had produced just one win.

Stefan Aigner and Haris Seferovic twice pulled Eintracht back level but when Firmino tallied in the final minutes their own three-match victory run was over and Hoffenheim had climbed back above them into seventh place in the league.

The win was bittersweet for Hoffenheim, however, because they lost services of teenage defensive standout Niklas Suele, who suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the seventh minute.

Suele's injury was the worst possible news for a defense which has been under heavy pressure over the last five matches. His left knee appeared to buckle without contact in the seventh minute and the 19-year old, who has been an ever-present in the backline this season, was stretchered off in clear pain. He was immediately transported to hospital for further treatment.

The match proved to be a pulsating affair after that with Hoffenheim doing just enough to take the points. They got an early break when referee Dr. Jochen Drees, either didn't see or chose to ignore goalkeeper Oliver Baumann's charge on Seferovic that had the look of a 21st minute Eintracht penalty.

After that reprieve, Hoffenheim came into things on attack and eventually grabbed a 1-0 halftime lead.

Fermin Schwegler didn't test reserve keeper Timo Hildebrand with a 34th minute free kick and Tarik Elyounoussi could have measured a right-side chance a bit better two minutes later, but Volland gave the back-up no chance when he accepted a counter-attack pass from Firmino in the minute before the interval. Hildebrand, playing because regular Felix Wiedwald is suffering from glandular fever, was left grasping air as Volland rounded him top left before hitting the open net.

Eintracht took the momentum with the start of the second half and was level in the 58th minute when Aigner came free in the box to side-foot home a cross from Bastian Oczipka. Makoto Hasebe had done extremely well to win the ball before sending Oczipka into space on the left to start the successful attack.

The visitors could have been ahead two minutes later but Timothy Chandler's drive hit the crossbar with Baumann beaten, the woodwork allowing Hoffenheim to regain the lead.

Firmino then got the winner, finishing out of an 88th minute scramble at the right post after Hildebrand had twice denied Szalai in the action off a corner kick that Eintracht never got to grips with. Seferovic had one more chance for Eintracht in stoppage time, but Hoffenheim survived.

Saturday's six-match program includes third-place Augsburg at home to leaders Bayern Munich, who start the weekend seven points clear of second-place Wolfsburg and 12 ahead of Augsburg.

Also Saturday, Borussia Dortmund goes to Hertha BSC Berlin with both clubs sitting in the bottom five on 14 points, just two off the bottom.

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