Terry Duffelen
Sat 6 December 2008

Bundesbag Extra: Bayern 2 Hoffenheim 1

In the end it was route one. A lump up the field by Michael Rensing, Luca Toni’s easily won header, a rare moment of sloppiness in the Hoffenheim defence gifting the ball back to the Italian who gratefully put the ball through the keeper and into the net. It was the 92nd minute and Bayern had completed their comeback to deny Hoffenheim the point they thoroughly deserved.

There will be those who will feel that Bayern Striker Luca Toni should have been off the pitch. His first half dive in the penalty area was cynical and deserved a booking. He also had a lot to say to the officials for which a second yellow would not have come as a surprise. However, the ref let a lot of things go in what was a pulsating, committed, fast-paced all-action top of the table clash at the Allianz.

For most of the game the visitors set the tempo. They moved the ball around at speed and their athletic forwards frequently turned the full backs as they powered towards the Bayern goal. In the midfield they were tigers. The excellent Tobias Weis had Franck Ribery tied in knots and Marc Van Bommel was starting to lose his cool. When they didn’t have the ball, Hoffenheim refused to allow the champions to settle. They were hard in the tackle and really rubbed some of the Bayern players up the wrong way.

Despite this, Bayern had the best of the early chances. Both Klose and Toni failed to meet a cross that would almost certainly have resulted in a goal. The Italian also missed a fantastic chance, hitting the side netting instead. Up the other end, Denbar Ba chose to shoot straight at Michael Rensing rather than square the ball to an unmarked Vedad Ibisevic.

After the restart Hoffemheim claimed the goal that was coming to them. Weis went on a forward run and played a one-two with Ba. He placed the return ball at the feet of Ibisevic whose turn an volley from 12 yards gave Rensing no chance.

Seething with indignation at being bossed around in their own place, Bayern played the ball long, trying to bypass the Hoffenheim midfield. For a few minutes Bayern managed to wrestle control of the game away from their opponents and it is a mark of their class and experience that they could make it pay. Philip Lahm picked up the ball and his long-range strike deflected off the excellent Marvin Compper and into the net. It was cruel luck on Hoffenheim but a demonstration on how to convert possession into goals.

As the second half progressed, the leaders began to give the ball away and found themselves chasing the game. However, the pace was unrelenting and you felt that neither team were prepared to settle for a point. Toni missed two clear headers that he would have buried on another day. Hoffenheim had a further chance to win the game in the 86th minute, only to be denied by the bravery of Rensing in the Bayern goal.

It was a missed opportunity which they came to rue when in the dying seconds. Bayern embraced the Christmas spirit and adopted the role of the pantomime villain by cruelly snatching the points and ending a wonderful game in heartbreak for the visitors.

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