"The team performance was good today. You could see from the start that all the players were up for it – despite the tough training programme we've completed this week. The team gave their all from the first to last minute and tried to win the game," said Herrlich in praise of his team's display. "But unfortunately we didn't take our chances. That's the main point of criticism. But the way the team tried to win the game right to the end makes me optimistic," said the 45-year-old.
With Leno, Henrichs and Brandt
Herrlich was able to call on the Confed Cup winners Bernd Leno, Julian Brandt and Benjamin Henrichs for the first time. While Brandt started on the bench, Leno played in goal and Henrichs was at right back. Driven on by Kevin Kampl and Julian Baumgartlinger plus the bustling Leon Bailey on the left wing, the Werkself took control of the game from the start and went on to create chances. Just before the half-hour mark, Kevin Volland was rewarded for his efforts up front when he headed home a cross from Bailey to give Bayer 04 a deserved lead.
The Werkself continue to press forward after the goal but were unlucky with their finishing. First, Bailey whipped the ball into the box on 35 minutes but no one was at the end of his cross. The Antalyaspor goalkeeper Ruud Boffin then saved a penalty from Volland with Kai Havertz failing to convert the rebound on 39 minutes. The Austrian referee Ames Talic then blew for half-time.
Ten changes at half-time
Herrlich reshuffled his pack at the break making ten substitutions. The reshaped Werkself team remained lively and quickly created further goalscoring opportunities. But the opponent from Turkey, including 36-year-old star Samuel Eto'o, did produce good moves from time to time to show why they finished last season fifth in the Turkish Süper Lig: Ramazan Özcan, in goal for Bayer 04 in the second half, pulled off an impressive flying save to prevent an equaliser on 56 minutes.
It was the Herrlich team that continued to dominate the game and create chances. Stefan Kießling missed a chance to extend the lead for the Black and Reds with an overhead kick on 68 minutes. Bayer 04 then came to rue the large number of unsuccessful efforts on goal. Özcan pulled off another impressive reflex save on 70 minutes but the 33-year-old keeper was unable to keep out Mostapha El Kabir three minutes later – a completely unnecessary goal from a Bayer 04 perspective. The young Werkself side refused to give up and continued to press forward. The best chance of restoring the lead fell to Sam Schreck but his skilful shot with the outside of his foot went wide of the target on 76 minutes. The score remained at 1-1.
Kießling causes a scare
As the game became increasingly physical, there was a scare on 83 minutes when Kießling was left lying on the ground in the centre circle with a pained expression on his face following a tackle. The striker had to go off. It looked bad but happily Heiko Herrlich was able to give the green light after the match: "The doc told me he's got a dead leg. I hope that's all it is and that everything else is okay."
The next friendly for the Werkself is on Sunday: The training camp in Austria ends with Bayer 04 taking on Italian top-flight side Lazio at the Goldberg Stadium in Grödig at 15.30 CET.
Bayer 04: Leno (Özcan 46’) – Henrichs (Frey 46’), Dragovic, S. Bender (Ramalho 46’), Wendell (Bednarczyk 46’) – Baumgartlinger (Kohr 46’), Kampl (Yurchenko 46’) – Mehmedi (Schreck 46’), Bailey (Brandt 46’) – Havertz (Pohjanpalo 46’), Volland (Kießling 46’)
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