Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia has applauded match-winner Jens Hegeler after the German club's 2-1 triumph over Real Sociedad.
Hegeler struck a stunning free-kick in the second minute of second-half stoppage time on Wednesday to secure Leverkusen's victory in the UEFA Champions League.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder had missed Leverkusen's past four matches with a hamstring injury before they hosted Sociedad but made the difference at the BayArena with a 25-yard free-kick, which found the top corner of Claudio Bravo's goal.
"Obviously I am very happy for Jens Hegeler," Hyypia said.
"He was injured and now he is back.
"After such a goal he can gain a lot of confidence for the future. Hopefully he will stay fit."
Hegeler played 27 games for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga last season as the North Rhine-Westphalia-based club finished third in Germany's top tier, and he will be expected to play a big role in Hyypia's team for the rest of the season.
Leverkusen took the lead just before half-time when Simon Rolfes followed up his own header and poked the ball home after it rebounded off the bar.
A penalty from Carlos Vela in the 51st minute dragged Sociedad level and the Spanish visitors took control of the game until Hegeler's late strike ensured Hyypia's men won in front of their home crowd.
The 39-year-old Finnish coach admitted his team were lucky to triumph after a tough second half.
"We were a little tired in the second half, we had difficulties keeping possession and we were giving the ball away too quickly," Hyypia said.
"(After the penalty) we only defended.
"We lost our balance and Sociedad had a lot of counter-attacking opportunities to score.
"At the end we got the free kick and won 2-1 in the end. That's fantastic and I'm very happy that we got those three important points."
Hyypia added that Sociedad's penalty, conceded by Roberto Hilbert on Vela, was fair.
"I haven't seen a replay on TV yet but I saw it live and for me, that was a penalty," the former Liverpool and Leverkusen defender said.
"The referee made the right decision."
|Coach: S. Hyypiä|
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