The Bayer 04 anthem rang out across the impressive Estadio Nemesio Díez when the Werkself stepped onto the pitch 45 minutes before kick-off to warm up. The stadium announcer fired up the spectators in the stands with Mexican waves and there were also plenty of fans in Bayer 04 shirts.
Accompanied by impressive fireworks, the two teams first came through the Red Devils tunnel and then onto the pitch in front of a full house. There was a huge banner reaching up to the roof of the stadium behind one of the goals. The message read: “Gracias a México, Bayer es grande!” – in English: “Thanks from Mexico, Bayer are great!”
Immediately before kick-off, sporting managing director Rudi Völler along with Arturo Sanchez (vice president of Bayer LATAM) brought the ball onto the pitch, the two teams then gathered for a joint photo before referee Adonai Escobedo blew his whistle to start the game.
The visitors from the Bundesliga playing in blue had more possession but the first decent goalscoring opportunity fell to the Mexican side: Playmaker Leonardo Fernandez tested Lennart Grill in the Bayer 04 goal with a header from a few yards out and the 23-year-old keeper was able to keep out the shot with a great reflex save (16’). Sardar Azmoun also posed a threat at the other end with a shot on the turn from 20 yards out (27’).
The Werkself had the next good chance: Toluca’s Haret Ortega foiled an attempted diagonal ball from Azmoun with a sliding tackle but the ball almost went into his own net – the right-hand post saved the Mexican central defender (33’). Azmoun tried his luck with a long-range effort five minutes later but the Toluca goalkeeper Luis Garcia made the save.
The opener came in the last minute of the first 45 when Alexis Canelo put the hosts ahead to give Deportivo a 1-0 lead at half-time - and fireworks were again let off in the stadium.
Head coach Gerardo Seoane made a double change at half-time: Edmond Tapsoba came on for Jonathan Tah in central defence and Niklas Lomb replaced fellow keeper Grill between the sticks. There were few clear-cut chances for either side at the beginning of the second half and the visitors made three more changes on 63 minutes: Julian Baumgartlinger, Exequiel Palacios and Daley Sinkgraven came on for Robert Andrich, Azmoun and Mitchel Bakker.
The next almost 100% chance fell to the Mexican team: Ian González was suddenly in a one-on-one with Lomb after a block tackle but he put the ball just wide of the target to the right (73’). There were no more goals but there was positive news from a Black and Red perspective with the introduction of the two U19 players Sadik Fofana and Ayman Aourir on 84 minutes.
The night of football in Toluca ended with a huge firework display over the stadium while the players quickly changed their kit on the pitch to secure the next lasting memory of the #Bayer04MexicoTour...
Toluca starting eleven: Garcia – López, Huerta, Fernandez, Sierra, González, Baeza, Ortega, Canelo, A. Rodriguez, J. Rodriguez
Bayer 04: Grill – Kossounou (Fofana 84’), Tah (Tapsoba 46’), Hincapie, Bakker (Sinkgraven 68’) – Andrich (Baumgartlinger 68’), Aránguiz – Diaby, Azmoun (Palacios 68’), Paulinho (Aourir 84’) – Alario
Tah, Bakker,, Paulinho, Andrich, Azmoun, Alario, Diaby, Aránguiz, Hincapie
Goals: 1-0 Canelo (44’)
Referee: Adonai Escobedo (Mexico)
Attendance: 30,000 (sold out) at the Estadio Nemesio Díez
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