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Kruse scores in Hoffenheim draw

Another step forward:

Sun, 28. February 2021
Kruse scores in Hoffenheim draw

1. FC Union Berlin battled hard to secure a point against Hoffenheim at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.

Max Kruse slotted home from the penalty spot after nine minutes.

On 29 minutes, Hoffenheim equalised through Ilhas Bebou. The away side had the ball in the net again after 83 minutes but referee Tobias Stieler ruled the goal out for offside.

1. FC Union Berlin: Karius; Friedrich, Knoche, Schlotterbeck; Trimmel, Lenz, Andrich, Prömel; Ingvartsen, Pohjanpalo, Kruse

Hoffenheim: Baumann; Vogt, Grillitsch, Richards; Kaderabek, John, Samassekou, Rudy, Baumgartner; Kramaric, Bebou

Max Kruse’s return to the starting XI – his 11th appearance for the club – started in typically Max Kruse fashion at the Alte Försterei. The Union number 10 found a half-meter of space out wide, sliced open the Hoffenheim defence with an incredible pass and referee Tobias Stieler pointed to the spot following a foul on Christopher Trimmel. In the ninth minute, Kruse stepped up and hammered the ball into the top corner to put the home side into the lead. Despite Hoffenheim’s two-legged defeat in the UEFA Europa League to Molde, Sebastian Hoeneß’s team still possessed real danger in all areas of the pitch. Loris Karius, making his third start in a row, followed up on his recent displays to help protect the Union goal in a dominant period for the visitors. On 12 minutes, Karius’ pressure on Bebou likely prevented the striker from converting, but Marvin Friedrich was there on the goal line to help steer the ball clear. The on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper then made a fine save from Florian Grillitsch, the Hoffenheim midfielder turning a half-chance into a dangerous shot from distance. Christoph Baumgartner struck wide a minute later and Union temporarily held firm. Hoffenheim eventually found the breakthrough on 29 minutes, taking advantage of some uncharacteristically slack play from the home team. Andrej Kramaric hit the acceleration button, getting a yard of space to pick out Bebou who bundled in from inside the six-yard-box. Another Kruse set-piece almost led to another Union goal as the match came to a half-time end. Andrich played in Trimmel who delivered into a crowded penalty box. Friedrich won the loose ball, laid off to Ingvartsen but the Dane was unable to get a convincing shot on target.

Christopher Lenz couldn't shake off a muscle problem at the interval and he was replaced by Marius Bülter at left wing-back. With a change on one side, Trimmel on the opposite continued to present Hoffenheim a threat in attacking areas. The Austrian skipped away from Marco John and drilled the ball across the goal, but Oliver Baumann's touch was vital in allowing Hoffenheim to clear the loose ball. The next 15 to 20 minutes of the second half followed a similar pattern to the first in Köpenick. Hoffenheim looked up for the task after the midweek defeat and put their stamp on the game. However, Union never gave in and those important characteristics of determination and team spirit came to the fore. The Hoffenheim penalty box wasn't quite tested to the intensity of previous games but a milimetre of luck and Joel Pohjanpalo could have got on the end of Marcus Ingvartsen's cross after 63 minutes. Petar Musa was given the nod to lead the line after the hour mark and the Croatian put in an excellent shift without the ball. In the last 20 minutes, Hoffenheim found another gear and will be frustrated not to have taken maximum points. Ilhas Bebou missed an opportunity one-v-one, Schlotterbeck and Friedrich cleared off the line after 81 minutes and the on-loan Freiburg defender almost put one into his own net. Union carried a slice of luck after 84 minutes after Pavel Kaderabek sweeped home what looked like a winning goal for the away side. However, Stieler and video referee Norbert Grundzinski spotted an offside in the build-up and the 1-1 scoreline was restored. Substitute Ryan Sessegnon battered a loose ball into a ruck of players and almost carved out the winner for Hoffenheim. But Union hung in there until the final whistle and take home an important point in the fight for survival in the Bundesliga.

A week from today, 1. FC Union Berlin are back in Bundesliga action with Fischer's side heading to newly-promoted Arminia Bielefeld at the later kick-off time of 18:00 CET.