Ridle Baku hits winner as in-form Wolfsburg come from behind to defeat Hoffenheim
Wolfsburg extended their Bundesliga unbeaten streak to eight games after coming from within a goal to defeat Hoffenheim 2-1 at the Rhein-Neckar Arena.
Unbeaten in seven Bundesliga matches before today’s trip to Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg entered the game looking to extend their fine form. But it was the hosts who started out the brightest. Hoffenheim shaped the game-opening chance, with Christoph Baumgartner seeing his head bent over the bar by Koen Casteels. There was no letting up from the hosts, who continued to display tenacious high pressure, resulting in a flurry of chances which Casteels regularly snuffed out. Visibly unloved by his side’s display, Niko Kovac’s Wolfsburg continued on the back foot, with Casteels once again called into action, this time heavily webbed. Georginio Rutterthe bullet header. Despite the Belgian goalkeeper’s best efforts, the deadlock was finally broken after 42 minutes. Baumgartner scored after sending in Angelino’s fine cross, giving his side a deserved lead from close range. Wolfsburg equalized moments later, Ozan Kabak inadvertently turning to his own net after the initial pinball resulting from Maximilian Arnold’s dangerous cross.
The visitors completed their comeback early in the second half, when Baku completed a sublime team move from Wolfsburg. Starting with a terrific long ball from goalkeeper Casteels, the ball found Jakub Kaminski who calmly waited for support, before sending it in the middle to Felix Nmecha. The latter then carefully sifted the ball towards Baku, who clipped his weaker foot to coolly slip past Oliver Baumann for his third goal in his last four games. With the intensity of play having ostensibly deflated, the hosts struggled to generate chances to return to the relatively quiet affair. Baku’s goal therefore proved to be the winner, with Wolves extending their winning streak to four Bundesliga matches, while simultaneously drawing five points clear of opponents Hoffenheim heading into the winter break.
- Hoffenheim have not won for eight Bundesliga games, their last victory against Schalke in a 3-0 triumph in September.
- Wolfsburg are on their best form since January/February 2021, going eight games unbeaten (9 games at the time), with four straight wins.
- Only Bayern and RB Leipzig have collected more points than Wolfsburg’s 18 in the last eight Bundesliga games.
- Baumgartner scored his fourth goal of the Bundesliga campaign.
- It was the first time since 2017 that Hoffenheim ended the calendar year with a defeat in the Bundesliga.
Hoffenheim: Baumann (c) – Akpoguma, Vogt, Kabak, – Skov (Kaderabek 82′), Geiger (Quarshie 90’+3), Angelino – Stiller, Kramaric (Bruun Larsen 74′) – Rutter (Asllani 73′), Baumgartner
Unused subtitles: Pentke, Quaresma, Becker, Damar, Bischof
Out: Bebou (knee), Bicakcic (fitness), Dabbur (shoulder), Hübner (ankle), Philipp (finger), Prömel (ankle), Rudy (illness), Nsoki (illness)
Coach: André Breitenreiter
Wolfsburg: Casteels -, Fischer (Roussillon 89′), Bornauw, Van de Ven, Otavio – Baku, F. Nmecha (Waldschmidt 90′), Arnold (c), Gerhardt (Guilavogui 65′), Kaminski (Philipp 65′) – Marmoush ( Svanberg 12′)
Unused subtitles: Pervan, Schulze, Lacroix, Pejcinovic
Out: Brekalo (illness), Franjic (calf), Kruse (not taken into account), L. Nmecha (knee), Paredes (calf), Wimmer (illness)
Coach: Niko Kovac