As the team bus left the team hotel in Leverkusen, a number of Werkself fans gathered along the street forming a suitably distanced guard of honour as they gave their team vocal and colourful support ahead of the 65th derby against FC Köln. Head coach Peter Bosz intended to make two changes to his starting line-up in comparison to the 4-1 home win against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: Aleksandar Dragovic started in central defence in place of Edmond Tapsoba and Wendell came in at left back for Daley Sinkgraven. Good news: Kerem Demirbay was back in the squad after recovering from a Covid-19 infection. However, defender Lars Bender had to drop out during the warm-up. Mitchell Weiser started in place of last year's captain – a precautionary measure due to a muscle problem in his thigh.
The first touch of the ball after referee Tobias Stieler started the game was made by the former FC Köln youth player Florian Wirtz – and the first corner after less than ten seconds also went to the Werkself. There was no threat from that set piece but the visitors from Leverkusen were dynamic and in charge of the game. After one or two attacks that proved fruitless, the ball did end up in the back of the FC Köln net after eight minutes: A free kick from Nadiem Amiri was headed clear by Sebastiaan Bornauw – but his header dropped straight in front of Weiser who simply volleyed the ball with his left foot into the corner of the net to open the scoring (8'). And the next move saw the visitors double the lead: Moussa Diaby sprinted through the opposition from the middle of the pitch and fired a shot from 18 yards out into the net to make it 2-0 (10').
There was danger for the hosts again on 28 minutes when Amiri hit a shot from the right but the ball went the wrong side of the left upright. Shortly after that came the first big chance for the hosts who had more of the game at this stage: Defender Bornauw met a free kick with his head but his effort went inches wide of the left-hand post (30'). After a relatively incident-free 15 minutes, the Werkself took a 2-0 lead into the half-time break.
A couple of minutes after the restart and the Werkself added the third goal of the night: From the halfway line, Amiri sent Diaby down the left flank. The Frenchman took the ball to the byline and cut it back for Patrik Schick to run onto and he skilfully turned it into the far corner of the net on the move (55'). But there was more to come: Just four minutes later, Bailey found the former Köln player Wirtz unmarked in the penalty area and he was able to calmly slot the ball into the back of the net to make it 4-0.
With the clear lead, head coach Bosz made three changes in the middle of the second half. The 56-year-old brought on Karim Bellarabi, Tapsoba and Demirbay on his return to the squad (67’). Centre forward Schick almost made it 5-0 on 73 minutes – but the Czech Republic international only hit the woodwork. Amiri was then denied by the FC Köln keeper Timo Horn (76'). The final quarter of an hour saw Lucas Alario and Daley Sinkgraven join the fray. Nothing else really happened and the Werkself were able to secure the 4-0 win without a problem.
Thanks to the convincing victory against FC Köln, the Black and Reds remain top of the table in Germany's top flight. This Saturday, 19 December (kick-off: 18.30 CET), brings an absolute top match at the BayArena – second-placed Bayern Munich are the visitors to Leverkusen.
FC Köln: T. Horn – Wolf, Cestic, Bornauw, J. Horn (Limnios 42'), Jakobs – Rexhbecaj (Hector 65'), Skhiri (Meré 65'), Özcan, Thielmann (Ehizibue 46’) – Andersson (Modeste 65’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, Dragovic (Tapsoba 67'), Wendell – Wirtz, Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 67’), Amiri (Sinkgraven 78’) – Bailey (Bellarabi 67’), Schick (Alario 78’), Diaby
Goals: 0-1 Weiser (8’), 0-2 Diaby (10’), 0-3 Schick (55’), 0-4 Wirtz (59’)
Booked: J. Horn – Dragovic
Referee: Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
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