Bundesliga: Kaiserslautern 1 Hoffenheim 2
By Football News
Hoffenheim confirmed their place in next season's Bundesliga with a 2-1 win over Kaiserslautern in their relegation play-off second leg.
Markus Gisdol's men led 3-1 from the first leg and headers from centre-backs David Abraham and Jannik Vestergaard ensured they took a 5-2 aggregate victory.
Alexander Baumjohann's free-kick between those strikes threatened a comeback, but the hosts' efforts would prove in vain at the Fritz-Walter Stadion on Monday.
Kaiserslauten boss Stefan Kuntz made three changes to the side he named in the first leg, with Christopher Drazan, Steven Zellner and Albert Bunjaku replacing Dominique Heintz, Mitchell Weiser and Erwin Hofferrespectively.
Meanwhile, Gisdol made just one alteration to his side, as Tobias Weis came in for Sebastian Rudy.
Perhaps due to their largely unchanged side, Hoffenheim started more fluently, and the visitors were soon awarded a penalty after Kaiserslautern stopper Tobias Sippel felled striker Kevin Volland.
The goalkeeper subsequently produced a superb save to tip Sejad Salihovic's spot-kick onto the crossbar, but the visitors' pressure told soon after as Abraham nodded home following another excellent delivery from Rudy.
Gisdol's side held on until the break, and came close to doubling their lead midway through the second half, Volland drawing another good stop from Sippel after a great ball from Roberto Firmino.
But soon after that chance, the hosts were given hope as attacking midfielder Baumjohann curled a free-kick into the bottom corner to level the tie on the night.
Kaiserslautern thought they had gone ahead minutes later when Mohamadou Idrissou headed home from a free-kick only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
And, though Kuntz's side continued to press forward, any hopes of a miraculous turnaround were extinguished after 74 minutes when Vestergaard met Salihovic's corner to end the tie as a contest and confirm Hoffenheim's place in the Bundesliga.