Ahead of the third game in six days, Peter Bosz rotated his side in comparison to the 1-0 defeat away to Slavia Prague. The back four was again made up of Lars Bender (back after a head injury), Sven Bender, Edmond Tapsoba and Daley Sinkgraven in place of Tin Jedvaj, Aleksandar Dragovic, Jonathan Tah and Wendell. In addition, Nadiem Amiri replaced Kerem Demirbay in midfield and Karim Bellarabi made way for Leon Bailey on the right wing.
There was pouring rain in the Breisgau at kick-off, which did not make the game any easier for either side. And the challenge was made even more difficult for Leverkusen when Freiburg – as so often this season - took an early lead: Lukas Kübler played a perfect diagonal ball from the right-hand touchline into the path of Lucas Höler who was clean through on goal and able to place the ball past Lukas Hradecky with the outside of his foot (3’). Shortly after that, Jonathan Schmid scored again for the hosts but the goal was ruled out as Höler was offside in the build-up (7’).
Bayer 04 needed a little time to find their way into the game at the end of an enormously tiring week in very difficult conditions as Freiburg settled back into their own half after taking the early lead as they denied Leverkusen space. The Werkself then worked their way back into the match and Amiri had the first shot on goal on 19 minutes.
Freiburg again and again played on the break and succeeded in causing another scare for Leverkusen: After an alleged professional foul by Sven Bender on Höler, referee Benjamin Cortus first produced the red card from his back pocket. However, Edmond Tapsoba was definitely in a position to challenge the Freiburg striker and, after consulting the video screen at the halfway line, the referee withdrew the sending off. The danger was not over with Vincenzo Grifo hitting the ensuing free kick just wide - another close miss (25’).
Bayer 04 had to work really hard to get into the game – and they succeeded. Bailey tested Florian Müller with a great long-range effort (28’) before Lucas Alario again demonstrated his inimitable goalscoring instinct: Under pressure from Florian Wirtz, Nicolas Höfler produced a misplaced back pass - and the Werkself striker was onto it in a flash. Alario reacted brilliantly, beating Philipp Lienhart and then sliding the ball through the legs of the advancing Müller into the back of the net from a tight angle to make it 1-1 just before the half-hour mark.
Bayer 04 not only had a player in outstanding form up front but also one at the back - as Hradecky impressively demonstrated. A Freiburg header relay ended with Grifo shooting but the Werkself keeper prevented the Christian Streich team from regaining the lead with a spectacular save (33’).
Instead it was the Werkself who went in to half-time with the lead: A shot from Alario was blocked but Bayer 04 immediately struck again. Via Julian Baumgartlinger and Wirtz, ball came to Lars Bender on the right-hand side of the penalty area, he looked up and cleverly picked out Alario in the middle. The Argentinian again showed his excellent qualities as a finisher as he slotted the ball across Müller into the net to make it 2-1 - his second brace in succession in the Bundesliga (42’). Just before half-time, Sinkgraven had another chance but his effort from a promising position was blocked (45’).
As at the beginning of the game, Freiburg made the better start in the second half with the first chance falling to Grifo with a low drive (47’). But the Werkself were quickly on their toes this time and were very confident on the ball in spite of the incessant rain and Moussa Diaby produced another decent effort with a curling shot (58’). The reward for the very structured performance followed with an absolute wonder strike: After another case of quickly regaining possession, the ball came to Amiri in the centre, he sidestepped Baptiste Santamaria and curled an unstoppable shot from 20 yards out into the top left corner (64’). Bailey almost followed that up with the next artistic effort but his shot from the right edge of the box flew just over the bar (68’).
But Freiburg refused to give up. SC coach Streich brought on his super sub Nils Petersen - and he did not take long to find the back of the net: A low cross from Grifo was put away by the substitute of the far post with the Lars Bender unable to prevent it going in (72’). However, Bayer 04 were also able to rely on the quality of their substitutes: Peter Bosz had already brought on Tah and Demirbay at 3-1 - and the two substitutes combined to restore the two-goal advantage: A pinpoint Demirbay corner was met by Tah and his powerful header made it 4-2 (76’).
In an extremely entertaining football match, Freiburg continued to refuse to give in. Hradecky was again called on to show the best of his ability with an excellent parry of a volley from Petersen (82’). Only after the Finn in the Werkself goal held onto a long-range effort from Santamaria (87’) was the resistance of the hosts broken. Bailey almost netted a fifth goal with a powerful shot from the edge of the box but Müller was able to make the save (90+1’).
At the end of the day, Bayer 04 secured a third win in the Bundesliga in succession and remain unbeaten. The Werkself are still fourth in the table. The next match for the Bosz team is on Thursday 5 November (18.55 CET) away to Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva. That is followed by a league fixture against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday 8 November (18.00 CET).
SC Freiburg: Müller - Kübler (Petersen 63’), Lienhart, Heintz, Günter - Santamaria, Höfler - Schmid, Grifo (Kwon 78’) - Sallai (Jeong 78’), Höler (Demirovic 78’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender, S. Bender (Tah 65’), Tapsoba, Sinkgraven - Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 65’) - Wirtz, Amiri - Bailey, Alario (Palacios 89’), Diaby (Bellarabi 78’)
Goals: 1-0 Höler (3’), 1-1 Alario (29’’), 1-2 Alario (42’), 1-3 Amiri (64’), 2-3 Petersen (72’), 2-4 Tah (76’)
Referee: Benjamin Cortus (Röthenbach a. d. Pegnitz)
Booked: Kübler, Heintz - S. Bender, Diaby
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