"We were on top in the first half but Eintracht found it difficult in the second due to our switching to a 4-2-3-1," said Bayer 04 sporting manager Jonas Boldt after the final whistle. "We did really well creating our goals. Karim, who hasn't had much time on the pitch recently, produced two great assists and that will do him a lot of good."
Hat-trick hero Kevin Volland said: "The reorganisation at half-time was definitely the key factor in our victory. That flexibility is very important. That enabled us to show our attacking strength in the second half."
Head coach Heiko Herrlich was able to call on keeper Bernd Leno and defensive stalwart Sven Bender. Both picked up knocks in the 4-1 win at Leipzig but were fit again today's game. In contrast, Herrlich did have to make a swift change after Jonathan Tah suffered a muscle problem in the warm-up. Benny Henrichs replaced him. The other absentees were Lukas Alario, serving the last of his three-match ban, Joel Pohjanpalo (currently in rehab) and the injured Wendell (ligaments) who was replaced by Panos Retsosk. Bayer 04 played with a back three of Lars Bender, Sven Bender and Panos Retsos.
There were special landmarks for two Werkself pros: Bernd Leno played his 300th game for Bayer 04, and Kai Havertz made his 50th Bundesliga appearance for the Black and Reds and at the age of 18 years and 307 days he is the youngest player in the history the Bundesliga to achieve that feat.
Eintracht coach Niko Kovac, who was confirmed as the new Bayern Munich coach the day before the match at the BayArena, had to start without Luca Jovic, who started on the bench. former Bayer 04 youth player and pro Danny da Costa was in the starting eleven for Eintracht.
The match started under clear blue skies and early summer temperatures with the early action taking place mainly in midfield. Lars Bender was shown a yellow card early on for a foul on Jetro Willems (8') - his fifth that means the team captain will be suspended for the next match away to Borussia Dortmund. The fourth and fifth in the table did not give anything away and both teams went into challenges in a hard but fair way. The first real threat up front came from the hosts when Lars Bender passed to Kevin Volland but his low drive from the edge of the box was saved by the Eintracht keeper Lukas Hradecky on 14 minutes.
The Frankfurt goalkeeper was helpless a few minutes later: The ball came to Havertz after Frankfurt failed to clear and the youngster broke into the box from the right, crossed into the centre where Julian Brandt was completely unmarked and he headed the ball over Hradecky to make it 1-0 for the Werkself on 20 minutes. That was Julian's eighth goal of the season. The joy at being ahead did not last long. Eintracht levelled three minutes later. Marius Wolf put Fabian through to shoot from close range on 23 minutes. Leno got his hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out. The score was 1-1.
Bayer 04 continued to press as they sought to gain control of the game. The visitors looked secure in defence and gave little away. Brandt tried a long-range effort from 25 yards out but the ball went just wide of the left upright on 34 minutes. The Werkself continued to play well and prevented Eintracht having another chance. It was an open game but neither side were you able to open up the opposition defences before the break. "An entertaining match where Bayer 04 were on top in the first 20 minutes but Eintracht were able to neutralise that with a quick equaliser," said Stefan Reinartz in his half-time analysis on Sky. Reinartz played for both clubs.
There were no changes at half-time. However, Heiko Herrlich made a tactical change at the back. He changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Henrichs playing at left back, Retsos and Sven Bender took over in central defence and Lars Bender stayed on the right. It was left to Volland to create problems up front.
Bayer 04 had the first chance in the second 45. And it was Leon Bailey who shot from 25 yards out the ball smashing against the bar on 52 minutes. Volland headed over the rebound. Volland then went close on 55 minutes from a Bailey free kick and the Bayer 04 number 31 also had the next opportunity to score. It was great the way Volland beat Makoto Hasebe who went to the limit in his challenges. Volland stuck to his guns and shot – Hradecky saved (58'.). If the striker had gone to ground there would probably have been a red card for Hasebe.
Bayer 04 were clearly on top and the Werkself pressed for the second goal, winning a lot of second balls and succeeding in frustrating Eintracht. Frankfurt could hardly get their breath. And finally Volland was rewarded for his tireless commitment: Julian Baumgartlinger produced a great pass to Havertz , the youngster picked out Volland and he beat Simon Falette to slot the ball past Hradecky to give Bayer 04 a deserved 2-1 lead on 71 minutes. It was the twelfth goal of the season for Volland. And the number 31 netted his thirteenth after an impressive attack involving Brandt, and substitute Bellarabi provided a brilliant cross. The 3-1 goal settled the result. But the Werkself still had more to give. Volland made it 4-1 with his third goal on 88 minutes to complete a hat-trick. His third goal was almost an exact copy of the Leverkusen third - and again it was Bellarabi who provided a great pass to Dominik Kohr and his assist left Volland with a tap-in.
The final whistle came and the Werkself were able to celebrate a great performance with their enthusiastic fans. Another three crucial points in the bag. 4-1 at Leipzig and 4--1 against Eintracht Frankfurt - Bayer 04 are on course for a Champions League position with four games to play this season.
The Werkself are back in action on Tuesday 17 April with a home game in the DFB Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich. The match at the BayArena kicks off at 20.45 CET. Four days later, the Werkself have a Bundesliga fixture on matchday 31 away to Borussia Dortmund. The clash at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday 21 April kicks off at 15.30 CET.
Bayer 04: Leno – L. Bender (Jedvaj 83') , S. Bender, Retsos – Henrichs, Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz, Bailey (Bellarabi 75') – Brandt, Volland, Havertz (Kohr 87')
Eintracht Frankfurt: Hradecky - Abraham, Hasebe, Falette - da Costa, de Guzman, Willems (Chandler 69')- M. Wolf (Jovic 78'), G. Fernandes, K.-P. Boateng (Haller 63') - Fabian
Goals: 1-0 Brandt (20'), 1-1 Fabian (23'), 2-1 Volland (71'), 3-1 Volland (78'), 4-1 Volland (88)
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (Munich)
Booked: Bender (fifth), Volland, Aránguiz - da Costa, de Guzman, Hasebe, Falette (tenth)
Attendance: 30,210 (capacity crowd)
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