Bayer 04 suffer unlucky defeat in exciting opener

What a Bundesliga opener - and what a disappointing result. After a high quality and extremely exciting game right the Werkself lose 2-1 in the opening fixture of the new Bundesliga campaign. The goals in the top match on the first matchday were scored by André Hahn (45+3’), Joel Pohjanpalo (80’) and Lars Stindl (85’). Jonathan Tah hit the bar on 41 minutes and Kevin Kampl the post five minutes later.
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

“We conceded unnecessary goals today otherwise we didn’t give much away and we played well. We definitely wanted to win the game and after the equaliser we set out to take all three points. It’s a pity we conceded so late on,” said Julian Baumgartlinger after the match.

Head coach Roger Schmidt had to manage without Chicharito (broken hand), Stefan Kießling (back in full training after hip injury) and Lars Bender (ankle injury). Julian Brandt returned straight to the squad after Rio 2016 but the 20-year-old started on the bench. The two new signings Julian Baumgartlinger and Kevin Volland made their Bundesliga debuts for Leverkusen. Former Bayer 04 player Christoph Kramer started in central midfield for the hosts.

“The fans can look forward to an exciting game with both teams looking to get on the front foot at the right moment,” predicted Roger Schmidt before the game and he was wrong. With the thermometer reading over 30 degrees both sides endeavoured to press forward from the start and it was evenly balanced encounter in the opening stages of the game.

The first chance fell to the team in red and black: After just five minutes central defender Jonathan Tah headed just wide from a Volland corner.

Leno in form

On 21 minutes Bernd Leno kept the Werkself in the game with an outstanding but painful intervention: Raffael left Tin Jedvaj standing and he fired in a shot from a tight angle. Leno was on the spot and he parried the powerful shot and saved the follow up effort from Wendt with his head. What a star.

Baumgartlinger and Charles Aránguiz worked together brilliantly in the centre but Gladbach posed a constant threat with their quick counter-attacks. The best chance fell to Jonathan Tah again. The central defender imposed himself from a Volland free kick and headed against the bar on 41 minutes. The Werkself could have had the lead.

Unlucky goal against

In the third minute of added time came a bitter setback: Tah deflected a quickly taken Gladbach free kick into the path of André Hahn who left the impressive Leno helpless in a one-on-one to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at the break.

The Werkself came out in determined mood for the second half and they pressed forward in search of a leveller. However, Bellarabi and Co. were unable to land the crucial blow. Leno was soon forced to show his ability again when he made a brilliant save from a Raffael free kick. The replay showed that Leno reacted brilliantly to a minimal deflection from Jedvaj’s brow on 54 minutes.

Roger Schmidt sent on Admir Mehmedi and Julian Brandt in place of Kevin Volland and Hakan Calhanoglu just after the hour mark. The game became more and more competitive. And when Aránguiz went off with a knee injury Roger Schmidt opted to bring on another striker in Joel Pohjanpalo. And the sub found the back of the net.

Pohjanpalo levels

114 seconds after coming off the bench Pohjanpalo headed the leveller to make it 1-1 after a headed assist from Karim Bellarabi. Kampl put Wendell through before that and he put in a smart cross for Bellarabi. An admirable and deserved equaliser with ten minutes to play.

That scoreline did not last long. Five minutes later the sub Thorgan Hazard set up Lars Stindl and although he looked offside he beat Jedvaj to the ball and he beat Leno to restore the Gladbach lead on 85 minutes. The Werkself threw everything into attack but were unable to find an equaliser in the five minutes of added time.

The first international break of the season is round the corner before the first Bundesliga home game on Saturday 10 September at 15.30 CET against Hamburg SV.

Match stats:

Borussia Mönchengladbach: Sommer - Elvedi, A.Christensen, Jantschke (Vestergaard 46’) - Strobl, Kramer - Traoré (Johnson 61’), Wendt - Stindl - Hahn (Hazard 84’), Raffael

Bayer 04: Leno - Jedvaj, Tah, Toprak, Wendell - Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz (Pohjanpalo 77’) - Calhanoglu (Brandt 67’), Kampl - Volland (Mehmedi 63’), Bellarabi

Goals: 1-0 Hahn (45+3’), 1-1 Pohjanpalo (80’), 2-1 Stindl (85’)

Booked: Kramer, Stindl, Strobl - Toprak, Bellarabi, Wendell

Referee: Dr. Felix Brych(Munich)

Attendance: 51,000



© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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