TSG 1899 Hoffenheim defeated Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-2 in the Bundesliga on Sunday, handing the hosts their eighth loss in nine games across all competitions, while Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Nuremberg 5-2 to ease their relegation fears.
American defender Fabian Johnson crossed for Anthony Modeste to tuck the ball away in the 89th minute for Hoffenheim. The French striker pointed to the net in an apparent reference to the “ghost goal” scored by Stefan Kiessling in the sides’ last meeting, when the ball went through a hole in the side-netting.
Sead Salihovic put the visitors in front with a penalty in the 14th minute after Roberto Hilbert handled in the penalty area.
Emir Spahic crossed for Kiessling to equalize with a header in the 39th minute, but there was an immediate brilliant response from Kevin Volland, who eluded Andres Guardado and lifted the ball over the Leverkusen goalkeeper and inside the far post.
The hosts equalized again through Simon Rolfes, set up by Lars Bender’s back-heel after Hoffenheim goalkeeper Jens Grahl saved Guardado’s free-kick.
Modeste had the final say with his 10th goal of the season to increase the pressure on Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia.
Leverkusen were once in second, but now sit in fourth, just two points ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach in the final UEFA Champions League qualification place.
“It’s about the Champions League,” Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender said. “I’ve no desire to play in the Europa League next year. We have to show that for the whole game and not just for a few moments.”
Frankfurt earlier handed Nuremberg their fourth straight loss to leave the hosts mired in the relegation zone.
The visitors scored in the 21st minute when Stefan Aigner blocked Emanuel Pogatetz’s attempted clearance and crossed for Tranquillo Barnetta to score.
Nuremberg were dealt a further blow when defender Ondrej Petrak suffered a suspected broken nose and concussion after receiving Joselu’s elbow to the face in a challenge.
Nuremberg captain Raphael Schaefer suggested Joselu should have been sent off.
“It’s quite clear. Everyone can see it,” the goalkeeper said. “Red card and we would have conceded two goals less.”
Aigner unselfishly set up Joselu in the 49th minute, before Alexander Madlung thought he had decided the game with Frankfurt’s third four minutes after that.
“There was only fear in the first half. We played like a relegated team,” Nuremberg coach Gertjan Veerbek said.
However, Josip Drmic scored the goal of the afternoon in the 64th minute, controlling Jose Campana’s cross with his first touch and then firing high into the far corner with his next, and Campana reduced the deficit further four minutes later with a shot from distance.
Nuremberg’s revival was ended when Javier Pinola was sent off for bringing down Joselu as the last defender in the 80th minute.
The Spanish striker decided the game on a counterattack in the 88th minute and set up Vaclav Kadlec for the visitors’ fifth in stoppage-time.
“The way I see it, we were lucky a red card wasn’t issued [for Joselu]. It would have been very close for us then,” Aigner said.
The result lifted Frankfurt to 12th, six points clear of Nuremberg and Hamburg SV in the relegation zone.
“I got a sprain from celebrating. Incredible,” Frankfurt coach Armin Veh said.