Hoffenheim, Berlin held in UEFA Europa League

Berlin, Dec 8 (IANS) Hoffenheim secured one point following a 1-1 draw against Ludogrets while Berlin held Oestersund 1-1 in the last round of the Europa League’s group stage.

Hoffenheim did not have a chance to advance to the knockout stages and Ludogrets needed just a draw from Group C to qualify for the next round, reports Xinhua news agency.

However, things did not go in favour of Ludogrets as Hoffenheim grabbed the lead with 25 minutes played through Philipp Ochs, who marked his first ever goal in the Europa League from eight meters following a through ball from Robin Hack.

The Bulgarian visitors responded after the restart with the needed equalizer as Marcelinho’s pass into path allowed Wanderson to drill the ball past Hoffenheim goalkeeper Gregor Kobel in the 62nd minute.

Hoffenheim dictated the pace but Ludogrets stood firm and claimed the 1-1 draw, despite losing substitute Claudiu Keseru to a straight red card in the closing period.

With the result, Ludogrets complete Group C in the second place, behind leaders SC Braga followed by Istanbul Basaksehir and Hoffenheim.

But Hertha Berlin can no longer qualify for the next round.

Berlin were the better team in the first half as they were able to produce more chances.

Nevertheless, it were the visitors from Sweden who opened the scoring in the 58th minute when Sotirios Papagiannopoulos tapped home the opener following a corner.

It was a short-lived joy for Oestersund as Berlin immediately bounced back three minutes later, as Maximilian Mittelstaedter’s square pass allowed Peter Pekarik to restore parity from inside the box.

However, the visitors had the chance to grab the last winner but Berlin goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann defused Brwa Nouri’s penalty from the spot in the closing period.

With the draw, Athletic Club top Group J followed by Oestersund, Zorya Luhansk and Hertha Berlin.

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