Bayer 04 head coach Peter Bosz not only had to manage without the two long-term injuries Joel Pohjanpalo and Panos Retsos plus captain Lars Bender but also his twin brother Sven who suffered a head injury in the final pre-match training session. He was replaced in central defence by Aleksandar Dragovic. That was the only change to the side that played in the Europa League match in Russia on Thursday. The regular Fortuna Düsseldorf goalkeeper Michael Rensing was replaced late on by Jaroslav Drobny. On top of that, Kaan Ayhan and Kevin Stöger were suspended and Adam Bodzek was injured.
The Bayer 04 fans provided the first highlight before kick-off with a great black and red choreography that represented a look back at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium. That was followed by the action on the pitch. The visitors from Düsseldorf had the first chance from a corner when a header from Kenan Karaman went just wide of Lukas Hradecky's goal on three minutes.
As usual, the Werkself had a lot of possession and set out to control the game. Kai Havertz tested Drobny with a shot on eleven minutes but it was too close to the keeper. Peter Bosz was then forced to make his first change when Karim Bellarabi suffered an injury to his left thigh when he received the ball unchallenged and he had to go off. He was replaced by Lucas Alario (15').The Argentinian moved into the centre of the attack with Kevin Volland playing out on the right flank.
Volland fitted in perfectly in that position when he provided a cross that an unmarked Havertz converted from close range to give the Werkself a 1-0 lead on 18 minutes. That was the ninth goal of the season for Kai.
Fortuna, playing in all white, sat back for much of the time but they did have the next chance with a free kick from Markus Suttner: The ball flew just wide of the right-hand post from 23 yards out (22'). Then Düsseldorf were forced to make a change when Jean Zimmer suffered an ankle injury when trying to clear his lines.
The Black and Reds clearly dominated the game with over 80 per cent possession and, at times, produced moves of technical high quality. As on 41 minutes when the Werkself won the ball and the move involving Leon Bailey and Alario set up Volland but his effort from six yards out was turned away for a corner by Suttner. The visitors tried to compete with occasional counter-attacks but were unable to break through the solid defence of the Bosz team. Bayer 04 went in at half-time with a deserved 1-0 lead. Kicker counted 518 passes by the Werkself in the first half and came to the following assessment: "No other team in the Bundesliga has made as many passes in a half this season."
Volland had the first shot on goal after the restart with an effort fired in from the right. But Drobny parried at the near post (46'). Fortuna did have a good chance through Niko Gießelmann but he shot wide of the Leverkusen goal from a diagonal position on the left (49'). The Werkself continued to set the pace and almost scored a second goal through Alario. The ball fell to the Argentinian after a deflected shot from Charles Aránguiz but Drobny, already moving the other way, pulled off a great save (56').
The Fortuna shot-stopper was beaten ten minutes later. He turned away a well-hit long-range effort by Mitchell Weiser but the ball landed at the feet of Leon Bailey and he tucked it into the back of the net to make it 2-0 for the Black and Reds (65'). Bayer 04 were in full control and were able to move the ball around at will and give nothing away the back. Julian Baumgartlinger came on with ten minutes to go in place of Julian Brandt and the Austrian was wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose. The Werkself comfortably saw out the game. Alario went close late on with a long-range effort (87'). Then came the final whistle. The Werkself continue their winning run with a fourth Bundesliga victory on the bounce and now move up to fifth place.
After the game, Kai Havertz talked about his goal: "I went into the box on spec and I was relatively unmarked for the pass from Kevin and I was easily able to knock it in for the opening goal. We had total control of the game and therefore 2-0 is a fair result." And Rudi Völler, sporting managing director at Bayer 04, was happy: "It was clearly an outstanding performance by us. Now we'd do well to quickly move on from this convincing victory and concentrate on next Thursday."
The second leg of the Europa League tie against FK Krasnodar brings the next tough challenge on 21 February. The match at the BayArena kicks off at 21.00 CET.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah. Dragovic, Wendell – Havertz, Aránguiz, Brandt (Baumgartlinger 80') – Bellarabi (Alario 15'), Volland (Paulinho 89'), Bailey
Fortuna Düsseldorf: Drobny - Zimmer (Barkok 27'), Kaminski, Hoffmann, Suttner (Raman 64') - Morales, Zimmermann - Lukebakio, Gießelmann - Fink (Kownacki 75'), Karaman
Goals: 1-0 Havertz (18'), 2-0 Bailey (65')
Referee: Markus Schmidt (Stuttgart)
Booked: Dragovic - Fink, Lukebakio, Hoffmann
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