Alario brace seals 2-1 win against Schalke

The brilliant Werkself run continues: After beating Bayern Munich, the Peter Bosz team secured a 2-1 victory over third-placed Schalke 04 to move above Bayern and draw level on points with Schalke and Freiburg. Lucas Alario scored both goals for Leverkusen (15'/81'). Benito Raman scored a consolation goal for the visitors on 82 minutes. Bayer 04 were clearly the better team before the break and they battled to ensure taking all three points.

Rudi Völler was suitably pleased and relieved after the final whistle. "We have significantly improved our position in the league with the last two games. Lucas Alario again demonstrated his qualities as a striker today but the build-up to the two goals was also outstanding," said the Bayer 04 sporting managing director. Julian Baumgartlinger said: "We made it difficult for ourselves near the end. It was a tough battle, particularly in the second half."

There were four changes to the Werkself side that beat Bayern Munich 2-1. Aleksandar Dragovic replaced the suspended Jonathan Tah in defence, Karim Bellarabi and Kai Havertz came in for Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri in midfield and Alario stood in for the ever-present Kevin Volland who had started all 20 matches in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League this term. The top match between Bayer 04 and Schalke 04 promised to be a cracker – the Werkself were unbeaten in five games and Schalke had gone a further game without losing. "Schalke will be aggressive and we won't have much time on the ball," said Peter Bosz before the game. Leon Bailey felt that after just 45 seconds when he was upended by Jonjoe Kenny as he received the ball and he had to be treated on the pitch. The first chance for the hosts followed soon after but a Bellarabi volley from a Havertz pass went well over the target (3').

Alario nods in the opener

At the other end, Lukas Hradecky easily saved a left-footed shot from Raman on seven minutes. Schalke were uncompromising from the start and both sides struggled to find accuracy in their passing early on. A set piece led to the Werkself taking the lead on 15 minutes: Bailey crossed the ball into the middle, the Schalke keeper Alexander Nübel failed to collect in the six-yard box under pressure from several Leverkusen players leaving Alario with a simple header from four yards out to make it 1-0 (15'). It was the first headed goal for the Werkself this season. Shortly after that there was huge celebration again as Bailey appeared to have made it 2-0 but the Jamaican was offside. Before that, Nübel pulled off a great save to deny Havertz (19').

Impressive save from Hradecky

Bayer 04 were clearly on top and Schalke found it difficult to reorganise after going behind against an enormously competitive Werkself team. However, the visitors did have a good chance: Suat Serdar put Ramadan through on Hradecky but once again the Finn came out on top in a one-on-one with an opposition striker. A Serdar header from a Daniel Caligiuri free kick (29') went similarly wide as an effort from Lars Bender from a Bailey free kick on the half-hour mark. Havertz came much closer with a shot from 30 yards out (37').

Then Alario had a great chance to double his tally but the Argentine took too much time at the end of a great move that allowed Nübel to clear the danger in the six-yard box (40') – it could and should have been 2-0! Bayer 04 took a well-deserved but narrow lead into the half-time break. The Werkself had put in significantly more effort than their opponents and were clearly the better team in the first 45 minutes.

Schalke had to force themselves to produce the tempo and attacking efforts required after the restart. The first moves and corners were down to the hosts with a Baumgartlinger header flying over the top of the bar (49'). At the other end, Bastian Oczipka had too much time and space to dribble and was able to put the ball through to Raman and he beat Hradecky (50'). But the assistant referee immediately raised his flag and referee Harm Osmers decided it was offside – that was a close escape!

Diaby shoots straightaway

Bayer 04 had to be on their toes as Schalke applied significantly more pressure than before in the game. It was now end-to-end: A pass from Havertz was cut out in the penalty area and the counter attack ended with Hradecky coming well outside his box to put the ball into touch (57'). Peter Bosz then made the first change bringing on Diaby in place of Bailey on the hour mark. The Frenchman was immediately involved with Havertz picking him out but Nübel was able to turn his shot at the near post away for a corner (63').

Volland makes valuable contribution

Schalke brought on Ahmed Kutucu in place of Guido Burgstaller (70’) and Amiri replaced the exhausted Havertz (71'). The Royal Blues upped the pressure and the Werkself found it increasingly difficult to deal with the threat. But then came relief when Amiri hit a low shot that Nübel parried without any negative consequences (76'). The next Schalke substitution saw Rabbi Matondo replace Caligiuri to introduce more pace and Volland came on for Bellarabi (79') – and he again got stuck in to challenges. That produced a throw-in that saw Amiri pass to Charles Aránguiz who went to the byline before pulling the ball back to Alario. This time the Argentine did not hesitate and he scored his second with the outside of his foot to make it 2-0 on 81 minutes.

The end of the game? By no means! Schalke responded immediately and Raman scored a consolation goal with a simple tap-in on 82 minutes. Schalke played their last card bring on striker Mark Uth in place of the defender Kenny (87'). The exciting battle was drawing to a close but there were four minutes of added time. Volland hit a shot to the near post in the penalty area but Nübel was able to make the save (90+2'). Shortly after that, Wendell tackled Uth and then came the final whistle – and the Bayer 04 bench celebrated the victory with similar enthusiasm as they had shown for the win against Bayern

First Juve, then the derby

The Werkself still have four games to play this year with two in the next week. Bayer 04 play the final group match in the Champions League on Wednesday 11 December with a home game against Juventus. The kick-off at the BayArena is at 21.00 CET. That's followed on Saturday 14 December by the derby at FC Köln in the Bundesliga (kick-off: 15.30 CET).

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender, Dragovic, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz – Bellarabi (Volland 79'), Havertz (Amiri 71’), Bailey (Diaby 60’) – Alario

Schalke 04: Nübel – Kenny (Uth 87’), Kabak, McKennie, Oczipka – Caligiuri (Matondo 78’), Mascarell, Serdar, Harit – Raman, Burgstaller (Kutucu 70’)

Goals: 1-0 Alario (15’), 2-0 Alario (81’), 2-1 Raman (82’)

Referee: Harm Osmers (Hannover)

Booked: Wendell – Caligiuri, Raman

Attendance: 30,210 (sell-out)


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