Baumgartner brace inspires Hoffenheim to win over Koln


The battle of the middle men at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena promised two sides of contrasting possession-based and counter-attacking philosophies in Hoffenheim and Koln to produce a real spectacle.

Form heading into the game saw Hoffenheim without a win in seven whilst Koln came back from two down to draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf last time out. The visitors’ form has drastically increased in trajectory since the appointment of Markus Gisdol, making a ridiculous rise from the depths of relegation to definitive mid-table safety.

The away side began the game in the ascendancy, with Jhon Cordoba heading over from a deep free kick, and Mark Uth smashing into a Hoffenheim body in the opening eight minutes.

But it was the hosts who would take the lead against the run of play. Despite Koln pressure, a through ball found Jacob Bruun-Larsen, on loan from Borussia Dortmund, to square for the in-form Christoph Baumgartner who tucked past Timo Horn.

The 20-year-old made his debut at the end of 2018/19 against Werder Bremen, and has played for Austria at every level as a proficient attacking midfielder.

Things went from bad to worse in the opening period for the Billy Goats. After a VAR review, 2017 world referee of the year Dr. Felix Brych was forced to send Sebastian Boornauw off for a late and dangerous challenge. 

Florian Grillitsch was the next to be carded after a flying challenge on Cordoba, leaving the Colombian sprawled on the hallowed turf – Koln then re-jigged their formation, replacing Kingsley Ehizibue with Jorge Mere.

Surprisingly the visitors responded better to going down to ten – in what was an intricate and delightful move, Ismail Jakobs was denied by a deflection. Just seconds later he was denied again when running through, this time cleared from the line by the Koln defence.

Hoffenheim had the ball in the net after Mannus Dabbur ran through and squared for Baumgartner’s brace, but he was denied by the fact that the former Salzburg striker Dabbur strayed offside from the original ball.

Dabbur became the latest player in Brych’s notebook after mistiming a shot and kicking Jorge Mere.

Koln got the ball rolling in the second half but it wouldn’t be them making the immediate imprint. Pressing and guile from Robert Skov saw a cross into Baumgartner, who grabbed his sixth of the season with a header deftly guided past Horn.

Hoffenheim slid in their third just over a minute later, Baumgartner involved again, this time providing for a driven finish from Steven Zuber – the Swiss international’s first goal of the season. This effort meant that Baumgartner had been involved in 50% of Hoffenheim’s goals since January, either scoring or assisting.

In a game of poor discipline it was quite clear that Boornauw’s red was not to be last – Benjamin Hubner looked on thin ice as soon as he was booked in the early minutes, and after a long ball from Toni Leistner, he completely mistimed his jump and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The second half had provided fierce competition with tackles flying in, and Koln looked totally unlikely to score. The first half didn’t disappoint, but the second half was totally action packed in the first 15 minutes.

Koln pulled one back through substitute Florian Kainz’s deflected effort, and all of a sudden, the Billy Goats were alive in the match. The urgency had changed, and the screw turned.

This goal equalled their club record of 14 consecutive games getting on the scoresheet, a record held since 1994 – a long time coming but at the moment, not important as they trailed by two.

This was also the 35th home goal Hoffenheim had conceded this season, another, this time unwanted, club record. They had conceded at least three in their previous three home matches too – so potentially, hope for Koln.

And there would be hope.

Play from Cordoba linking with Skhiri led to handball in the penalty area, and after confirmation by VAR, Brych pointed to the spot. However, a short and predictable run up saw Mark Uth’s penalty denied by Oliver Baumann.

Uth missed one and scored one against Dusseldorf last time out, and the experienced attacker certainly won’t be taking the next one!

The side from the Cathedral City had performed admirably, dominating the home side on the vast majority of stats – except the important one, and despite their best efforts, they were defeated 3-1.

Stonadge’s MAN OF THE MATCH – Christof Baumgartner

Although he only featured for two thirds of the match, the Austrian’s class and manor of play was a joy to behold. I’ve heard of the lad, but never seen him before, and it was a total delight.

The attacking midfielder picked up two goals and an assist in what was a complete performance, and certainly one that will be watched across Europe’s elite.

Hoffenheim – Baumann; Kaderabek, Posch, Hubner, Zuber; Grillitsch (Rudy 45′), Samassekou, Baumgartner (Geiger 75); Skov, Dabbur (Bebou 58), Bruun-Larsen (Nordtveit 52′)

Unused Subs: Bicakcic, Pentke, Ribeiro, Bogarde, Beier

Koln – Horn;Ehizibue, Bornauw, Leistner, Schmitz (Hector 81′); Rexhbecaj, Shkiri, Drexler (Kainz 56′), Uth, Jakobs; Cordoba (Modeste 81)

Unused Subs: Hoger, Terrode, Kessler, Thielmann, Katterbach


About Author

Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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