Demirbay's late equalizer qualifies Hoffenheim for Europe
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COLOGNE, Germany — Kerem Demirbay scored in the third minute of injury time to qualify Hoffenheim for European football for the first time with a 1-1 draw at Cologne in the Bundesliga on Friday.
Demirbay's late strike ensured third-place Hoffenheim cannot finish any lower than sixth, guaranteeing the side a spot in the Europa League at least next season, while the point may yet prove valuable in its quest for automatic Champions League qualification.
"It wasn't our best game away from home, but the mentality was there. Now we're happy," Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen said.
Cologne forward Yuya Osako's botched clearance proved costly for his side — which had missed several chances to seal the result — when Niklas Suele somehow managed to get the ball to Demirbay, who fired into the left corner.
Instead of moving fifth and level with Hertha Berlin, Cologne moved sixth, ahead of Freiburg on goal difference and two points behind Hertha — ahead of the rest of the 30th round.
It had looked like Leon Bittencourt was about to do former club Borussia Dortmund a
Still, a win for fourth-place Dortmund at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday would lift it a point above Hoffenheim, which is enjoying its best ever Bundesliga season.
Third place in the Bundesliga guarantees Champions League participation the following season, while fourth place only secures a playoff for Europe's premier club competition.