“It was a very even game where we maybe had the better chances. We were fully there mentally today, which makes it harder that we got nothing from this,” Jonathan Tah said after the final whistle.
Bayer 04 coach Gerardo Seoane made five changes to his team from the DFB Cup game at Elversberg. Tah, Piero Hincapie, Kerem Demirbay, Exequiel Palacios and Karim Bellarabi started in place of Odilon Kossounou, Mitchel Bakker, Charles Aranguiz, Adam Hlozek and Sardar Azmoun, who all took their places on the bench. Both teams lined up in similar ways at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park with a back four, midfield three, two wingers and a central striker.
The encounter between last season’s second and third-placed teams quickly came to life. It took the Werkself just 90 seconds to come close as Hincapie met Demirbay’s free-kick with his head but nodded wide. The Ecuadorian was then in action at the other end with a slide to halt Karim Adeyemi. BVB took the lead shortly after when an attack through Donyell Malen looked to have been stopped but the ball fell to Youssoufa Moukoko, who squared across goal where Adeyemi tried to knock it in. Hradecky got to the shot but only parried the ball along his goal line, where Reus forced it in ahead of Hincapie.
Things got worse when Robert Andrich had to go off injured after 13 minutes and was replaced by Aranguiz. Hincapie had an effort from 20 yards that went just wide, but Leverkusen came closer with a counter through Bellarabi and Palacios. However, Patrik Schick’s curled effort from the edge of the area bent just wide of the top corner. Reus did similar at the other end in an intense encounter with chances for both sides.
It was a physical affair, with Moussa Diaby also managing a slaloming run past five Dortmund defenders but he failed to go alone or pick out Bellarabi. A promising chance arose for Schick after a Dortmund defensive error, with the striker running clear at Gregor Kobel, but Mo Dahoud nudged him off the ball before he could finish. The hosts went into the break ahead but the 5,000 travelling Leverkusen fans had seen a very committed performance from their team.
Seoane made a change for the second half by sending on Hlozek for Bellarabi. The Czech went over to the left wing, as Diaby switched to the right. However, the first notable chance after the restart fell to Borussia as Malen got down the left and cut back to Thorgan Hazard, but Hradecky pulled out an excellent stop from close range. The Werkself were celebrating not long after when Palacios nodded in a rebound from a Schick shot saved by Kobel, but the flag was raised against the Argentine and proven to be just correct on review.
It remained a battle of attrition in which both teams essentially neutralised each other in the middle of the second half. Schick drifted between Mats Hummels and Thomas Meunier to get onto a Diaby cross but put his effort straight at Kobel for a huge chance to equalise. Seoane made a second change by sending on Azmoun for Demirbay on 66 minutes. The Iranian was immediately in the game and played an excellent through ball up to Schick, but Kobel was again in the way with another close-range rescue act for BVB as the Werkself missed out again.
Bayer 04 were the ones making the play, pressing Borussia back deep in their own half. Jeremie Frimpong was mostly playing as a winger, with Diaby even tracking back to cut out attacks reaching his own box. Seoane’s final substitutions saw Bakker and Nadiem Amiri come on for Hincapie and Palacios, with both on yellow cards. But the Werkself were again out of luck as Schlotterbeck put through his own net but the goal was again ruled out because Azmoun was offside in the build-up. The salt in the wound came in the final minutes when Hradecky caught the ball slightly out of his penalty area and was shown a straight red on review by Dr. Felix Brych. The final whistle followed shortly after as a Werkself side, who gave everything, left with nothing.
Next up for Bayer 04 is the first of two consecutive home games. Augsburg are the visitors to the BayArena on Saturday, 13 August at 15:30 CEST before Hoffenheim come to Leverkusen a week later.
Borussia Dortmund: Kobel – Meunier, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro (Wolf 84’) – Dahoud, Bellingham – Adeyemi (Hazard 23’), Reus, Malen (Can 84’) – Moukoko (Brandt 68’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie (Bakker 78’) – Andrich (Aranguiz 13’), Palacios (Amiri 78’) – Bellarabi (Hlozek 46’), Demirbay (Azmoun 66’), Diaby – Schick
Goal: 1-0 Reus (9’)
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych
Yellow cards: Hazard, Schlotterbeck – Tah, Palacios, Hincapie, Bakker
Red card: Hradecky (90'+3)
Attendance: 81,365 (sold out)
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