This hashtag is set in stone: #BayerundderOFC – the friendship of the two clubs has a great history. The 35-year -old relationship revealed how lively and friendly it still is on Tuesday night. A crowd of nearly 3,000 visited the Sparda Bank Hessen Stadium to support the benefit match between Offenbacher Kickers and the Werkself with fans of both sides following the action on the pitch united in the stands. #BayerundderOFC – Red and White and Black and Red were almost inseparable on the night. The sporting outcome of the friendship party was a 2-1 win for Bayer 04 away to the team in the South West Regional League but that was definitely not the whole point on the night.
It was a home game for Rudi Völler on this particular evening. The Bayer 04 sporting director, who started his professional career at Bieberer Berg in 1977, following his move from TSV Hanau to OFC as a 15-year-old, was presented with a number nine shirt with his name on the back by the OFC president Helmut Spahn ahead of the kick-off. Head coach Roger Schmidt had all his players available for this benefit match with exception of the recovering Stefan Kießling and the two Olympians Lars Bender and Julian Brandt – that gave him the opportunity to field a different team in each half.
Chicharito nets early lead
It took nine minutes to beat the OFC keeper Sebald for the first time: Chicharito rounded off a successful move down the right to make it 1-0 early on. The brave Kickers earned praise for their efforts in the opening half hour even though Bayer 04 were very dominant with 80 per cent possession. And the underdogs scored an equaliser on 33 minutes: An excellent free kick from Serkan Firat beat Bernd Leno on the way into the top corner to make it 1-1. Bayer 04 lacked ambition up front before the break with a move just before the break that saw Karim Bellarabi squander a clear chance to make it 2-1 at half-time.
Roger Schmidt made eleven changes at the break. Joel Pohjanpalo, who earned the nickname of ‘danger’ at the training camp in Salzburger Land, had the chance to restore the lead but Sebald was able to make the save. A header from Ramalho landed in the arms of the capable Offenbach goalkeeper. The Werkself upped the pressure and were more industrious in the second half. Pohjanpalo posed a threat but was unable to make it 2-1 as the Kickers keeper again prevented the Finn scoring just before the hour mark. Admir Mehmedi lifted the ball over the bar shortly after that
Fluent move produces winner
Bayer 04 had completed a training session in the morning of the game. One or two heavy legs were evident in the Werkself eleven. However, the winner was the product of a delightful move: A great diagonal ball from Hakan Calhanoglu, a pin-point cross from Tin Jedvaj and Admir Mehmedi scored the winner like a centre forward on 82 minutes.
The Werkself before the break:
Leno – Hilbert, Toprak, Tah, Henrichs – Baumgartlinger, Kampl – Bellarabi, Kruse – Volland, Chicharito
The line-up after the restart:
Özcan – Jedvaj, Ramalho, Papadopoulos, Wendell – Aránguiz, Yurchenko – Öztunali, Mehmedi – Calhanoglu, Pohjanpalo
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