Football: Sabitzer strike rescues debutants RB Leipzig

By | August 28, 2016

BERLIN: After four promotions in seven seasons, RB Leipzig made an impressive Bundesliga debut on Sunday (Aug 28), twice coming from behind as Marcel Sabitzer’s equaliser sealed a 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim.

Founded in 2009 by Austrian energy drink’s firm Red Bull, RasenBallsport Leipzig are widely unpopular amongst German football fans, due to the commercialism they represent and resentment caused by their sponsor’s deep pockets.

For example, a severed bull’s head was thrown onto the playing area at last Saturday’s German Cup defeat at Dynamo Dresden and some fans of Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig’s opponents for their first home league match in a fortnight, plan a boycott.

But under Austrian coach Ralph Hasenhuettl, the talented young Leipzig side, lacking any big-name stars, proved themselves on their debut in Germany’s top flight.

“I’m very happy with the point, which we deserved,” said Hasenhuettl. “In the first few minutes we behaved a bit naively, but quickly got up to the level.”

They had two clear chances in the first-half, but fell behind when Hoffenheim’s Lukas Rupp fired home from 15-metres out.

The visitors drew level when Leipzig captain Dominik Kaiser scored against his ex-club on 58 minutes.

Hoffenheim looked to have won the game when Sebastian Rudy’s breakaway led to Mark Uth re-establishing the hosts’ lead on 83 minutes, until Austrian international Sabitzer equalised in the 90th minute.

When defender Benno Schmitz, a product of the Bayern Munich academy, fired in a late cross, Sabitzer, who spent last season at sister-club RB Salzburg, was waiting to tap home at the far post.

After the result, Leipzig announced they have signed Scottish teenage winger Oliver Burke on a five-year-contract from Nottingham Forest, reportedly beating Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to his signature.

“This transfer pleases us particularly because a lot of top clubs were interested and as well and we have added more quality to our attack,” said Leipzig’s director of sport Ralf Rangnick.

Earlier, Julian Schieber’s dramatic injury-time winner sealed Hertha Berlin’s 2-1 victory at home to newly-promoted Freiburg to claim his first goal since knee surgery in March 2015.

Hertha were cruising to a 1-0 win at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, thanks to Vladimir Darida’s second-half goal before the game burst into life in the final ten minutes.

Ex-Dortmund striker Schieber came off the bench for Vedad Ibisevic with 85 minutes gone and Freiburg drew level with a stunning header from their captain Nicolas Hoefler in the 93rd minute.

But Hertha roared back as Schieber latched onto a blocked shot from Japan winger Genki Haraguchi and his crude shot rolled into the goal in the 95th minute.

“It’s a dream for any footballer to score the winning goal in front of home fans shortly before the end, even if it was a scuffed shot,” said Schieber.

The hosts dominated possession and went ahead in the second half when Darida fired home, unmarked, from the edge of the area.

Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou, who suffered a double bereavement in the last two weeks following the death of his mother and father, was left on Hertha’s bench for the final dramatic ten minutes which yielded the two goals.

On Friday, last season’s champions Bayern Munich kicked-off the season with a 6-0 hammering of Werder Bremen at the Allianz Arena.

Poland hot-shot Robert Lewandowski, the 2015/16 top-scorer in Germany with 30 goals, netted a hat-trick for Bayern to resume his rivalry with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored 25 times to finish second.

Dortmund laboured to a 2-1 win over Mainz as Aubameyang netted twice, with a header and then converted a second-half penalty.

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