The U19s completed a light session at their training ground late on Tuesday afternoon as players, officials and employees alike attempted to maintain a sense of normality, but the magnitude of the match began to dawn on each and every one of them as kick-off edged closer. The UEFA Youth League Round of 16 – a chance to cement themselves amongst the best in Europe.
Rapp made three changes to the team that started their last match in the competition – a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City in December. U20 player David Otto, who missed that game through illness, returned to the starting XI, while Melayro Bogarde, who was promoted from the U17s in the winter, made his Youth League debut and Alexander Nitzl was handed his first start. Tim Linsbichler began on the bench, while Tobias Heiland is out for the season with a torn cruciate ligament and Samuel Lengle was suspended. Kiev coach Igor Kostiuk picked Vladyslav Supriaha at centre-forward. The 19-year-old, an expensive signing from Dnipro, had missed the 3-0 play-off win over Juventus.
Both teams did well to keep their nerves in check in front of 2,650 spectators – including around a dozen vocal Dynamo Kiev supporters – at the Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion. Hoffenheim lined up in a flexible 3-5-2 formation, while Dynamo Kiev opted for a classic 4-3-3 system. The first attempt fell to Domenico Alberico on the six-minute mark, though his effort lacked power and precision. Meanwhile, the first opportunity for the visitors fell to Serhii Buletsa, who took advantage of a mistake in midfield before shooting wide of the mark from a central position 18 metres out after nine minutes.
Chances few and far between in opening half
The Ukrainians did not shy away from the tackles – an approach perhaps best exemplified by a challenge from captain Denys Popov, who was deservedly booked in the opening stages for bringing down Alfons Amade with a two-footed slide tackle. Alberico was the next Hoffenheim player to feel the studs of a Dynamo player on his skin when he was brought down by Bohdan Biloshevskyi, who escaped with a warning. However, Rapp's charges would not let their flow be disrupted and they gradually seized control of the match. That said, they still had difficulties creating clear goalscoring chances against the compact defence of Dynamo, whose sole threat came from long-range efforts – some of which flew narrowly wide and some of which missed by a considerable distance – by Buletsa.
Most of the action in the opening half took place in the middle of the park, with neither goalkeeper getting so much as a touch of the ball until the 34th minute, when Kiev custodian Valentyn Morgun – who was listed on the teamsheet as the substitute goalkeeper – went unpunished despite letting a cross from the right flank slip through his hands. But as the half progressed, Hoffenheim gradually set up camp in the Ukrainians' half. Dynamo's only remaining opportunity fell to Supriaha who, having been teed up by Yaroslav Nadolskyi, had his shot blocked by Luis Görlich on 44 minutes.
Otto's shot cleared off the line
Having taken a knock in the first period, Enes Tubluk was withdrawn at the break and replaced by Stojilković. But it was the Ukrainian champions would start the second period more brightly, with Popov leaping into the air to connect with a free-kick from the right flank and thundering an effort against the woodwork (51). It was a lucky break for TSG, who saw themselves pushed back into their own half in the period that ensued and only recorded their first shot on goal of the second half following a 67th-minute counter-attack, Stojilković firing narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
But both teams went for the win in the final quarter of an hour in a bid to avoid the penalty shootout that loomed large on the horizon. Alberico had the best opportunity for the hosts in the 77th minute when he played a one-two with Amade before shooting from a centre-left position, only for Morgun to put it behind for a corner. By this point, Hoffenheim had the upper hand and could count themselves unlucky when Kostiantyn Vivcharenko cleared an Otto shot off the line with five minutes left. The final chance came when Bogarde thwarted Supriaha in the 90th minute.
No goals meant penalties and it was the visitors who kicked off the shootout. Tsitaishvili held his nerve, as did Otto, before Daniel Klein's two moments of magic. The TSG gloveman saved penalties from Maksym Zavhorodnii and from Vivcharenko either side of a successful conversion from Supriaha, meaning that his side would progress through to the next round if Ilay Elmkies scored. Having seen team-mates Amade and Benjamin Wallquist comfortably fire home from the spot, Elmkies stepped up and followed suit, sparking scenes of wild celebrations.
"We knew we would stand a good chance in a shootout, because Daniel has saved one or two penalties beforehand and we had good shooters in our team," said Rapp. "We dominated Kiev today," continued the aspiring football tactician, who felt his side "got their reward in the form of another match against Real Madrid, which we're really looking forward to".
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 0-0 (4-2 on penalties) Dynamo Kiev
Hoffenheim: Klein – Nitzl, Bogarde, Wallquist – Görlich, Amade, Elmkies, Alberico, Geschwill – Tubluk (Stojilković, 46), Otto.
Dynamo Kiev: Morgun – Skorko, Popov, Bilovar, Vivcharenko – Buletsa, Biloshevskyi, Nadolskyi (Vashchyshin, 73, Voloshyn, 86) – Tsitaishvili, Supriaha, Shulianskyi (Zavhorodnii, 83).
Goals: 0-1 Tsitaishvili, 1-1 Otto, (Klein saves from Zavhorodnii), 2-1 Amade, 2-2 Supriaha, 3-2 Wallquist, (Klein saves from Vivcharenko), 4-2 Elmkies. Attendance: 2,650. Referee: Ádám Farkas (Hungary). Bookings: Otto, Stojilković / Popov.