Bayer Leverkusen keeps its chance of reaching the quarter-finals

Bayer Leverkusen keeps its chance of reaching the quarter-finals

For a long time, Bayer Leverkusen delivered their worst performance of the season in the Europa League round of 16. In the end, the Bundesliga leaders managed to secure a draw in the first leg.

The jokers Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick saved Bayer Leverkusen from their first defeat in the 35th competitive game of the season in the wet and cold cauldron of Baku. In the 2:2 (0:2) in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Europa League at Karabakh Agdam in Azerbaijan, the national player and the Czech Republic saved the draw after by far the worst half of the season and thus a good starting position for the second leg on Thursday in Leverkusen .

Coach Xabi Alonso rested numerous stars after the long journey to the Caucasus in view of the strain in the coming weeks. Granit Xhaka, Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong, among others, sat on the bench at the start. Agdam took advantage of this through Yassine Benzia (26th) and Juninho (45th + 2). Wirtz, who had been substituted twelve minutes earlier, shortened the score with Leverkusen’s 100th competitive goal of the season (70th) – and Patrik Schick (90th + 2) then equalized.

The hosts surprised Bayer Leverkusen

The old but atmospheric arena in Baku, once called the Josef Stalin Stadium and then the Vladimir Lenin Stadium, now bears the name of Tofiq Bahramov. So from the Azerbaijani linesman who saw the ball behind the line at the 1966 World Cup final and thus made the “Wembley goal” possible for England against Germany. About half an hour before kick-off it started to rain heavily. Combined with the strong, cold wind, the conditions were uncomfortable.

The hosts tried to surprise the Leverkusen team with a powerful and physical style of play. That was successful and the Werkself couldn’t get into the game for a long time. Alonso obviously didn’t like that. The Spaniard gesticulated unusually wildly on the sidelines.

But things didn’t get better. Quite the opposite. First Matej Kovar, who, as in every group game, represented captain Lukas Hradecky in goal, saved a shot from Juninho with one hand (24th), then Marko Jankovic hit the inside post (25th) and a few seconds later it happened again , when Benzia shot the ball under the crossbar from ten meters. In view of 6:0 shots on goal, the lead for Agdam was deserved and logical. And in stoppage time in the first half, Bayer was able to counterattack when Juninho ran past Jonathan Tah from the halfway line and played past Kovar.

Alonso brought on Frimpong at the break, and when things only improved to a limited extent, he also brought on Xhaka and Wirtz in the 58th minute. Now things got better and ex-Leverkusen player Andrej Lunew had to parry a dangerous shot against Edmond Tapsoba for the first time (62′). And when Wirtz intercepted a back pass from Abdellah Zoubir and lobbed the ball over Lunew, Leverkusen was back in the game. Schick, who was also a substitute, ultimately ensured the draw.

Source: Stern

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