Werkself fail to halt Bayern run

Bayer 04 were unable to break the run of the Bundesliga league leaders: The Werkself, without the injured Kai Havertz, lost 4-2 against Bayern Munich at the BayArena. Lucas Alario gave Leverkusen an early lead (10') but Kingsley Coman (27'), Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry (45+ 1') turned the game round before half-time. In the second half, Robert Lewandowski increased the lead to 4-1(66') and Florian Wirtz pulled a goal back late on (88').

Bayer 04 faced a real handicap for the clash with Bayern: The Werkself had to manage without the most prolific member of the team as Kai Havertz was ruled out with muscle problems. The Germany international, who missed the earlier meeting this season at the Allianz Arena, has scored five goals in four matches since the Bundesliga restart. Head coach Peter Bosz made four changes from the starting eleven at Freiburg. Edmond Tapsoba, Moussa Diaby, Karim Bellarabi and Lucas Alario came in for Jonathan Tah, Daley Sinkgraven, Florian Wirtz and Havertz. Lars Bender is still sidelined and Kevin Volland was on the bench.

The situation was clear after the 1-0 defeat for Borussia Mönchengladbach at SC Freiburg on Friday night: A result against the record champions would see the Werkself return to a Champions League position. Peter Bosz called for his players to put on a brave display against FC Bayern and there was an attacking approach with Nadiem Amiri and Leon Bailey playing on the flanks. Bayern also went into the match at the BayArena in confident mood after eight wins on the bounce – the scene was set for a high quality and high tempo top match.

First chance brings the lead

As expected, the visitors started with plenty of possession and they endeavoured to get on the front foot without delay while Bayer 04 looked to stand firm and play on the break. Leverkusen quickly showed why they have been praised for their efficiency over recent weeks: From a throw-in from Bailey, Julian Baumgartlinger played the ball into the feet of Alario and the Argentinian kept his cool to slot the ball in at the near post to make it 1-0 (10'). Referee Manuel Gräfe initially decided it was offside but the goal counted after referring to VAR. It was the seventh goal of the season for Alario.

The Werkself, playing with a defensive 5-2-3 formation, skilfully crowded the middle of the pitch to make it difficult for Bayern to break through to the penalty area. Tapsoba again showed his familiar calm as he won several challenges. Bayern's first threat on goal came from Coman and Lewandowski but the Frenchman was offside (24'). Shortly after that came the equaliser: Goretzka beat Diaby to the ball on the halfway line before putting Coman through and he kept his nerve as he put the ball past Lukas Hradecky to make it 1-1 (27'). Hradecky saved a free kick from Joshua Kimmich just after the half-hour mark (31') and Manuel Neuer did the same at the other end with an effort from Diaby (38).

Bayern's double whammy before the break

The hosts were in luck when Lewandowski, who evaded Bailey, put a volley wide of the far post with a shot from the right (39'). Just three minutes later came the lead for Bayern – following a Leverkusen corner, a counter-attack ended with Goretzka shooting from the edge of the box. Hradecky got his fingers to the ball but was unable to keep it out – 2-1 down (42'). And Bayern were keen to extend their lead: First of all, Hradecky pulled off a great save in a one-on-one with Gnabry (45') but then the Werkself defence were caught out by a long ball from Kimmich from his own half as Gnabry raced through and beat Hradecky with a lob to make it 3-1 (45+ 1'). That was the half-time score. Bayer 04 were in the game for 30 minutes before the men from Munich showed their true quality.

Three changes at half-time

Peter Bosz reacted by making three substitutions at the break: Kerem Demirbay, Wendell and Florian Wirtz replaced Amiri, Bailey and Bellarabi. There was also a tactical change along with the substitutions as the formation changed to a 4-2-3-1 with Aleksandar Dragovic playing at right back. The first chance of the half fell to Bayern with Thomas Müller just missing the target from the edge of the box (50'). At the other end, a cross from Diaby found Alario but his header from a tight angle was turned over the bar for a corner by Alphonso Davies (55').

Volland makes comeback

Paulinho came on for Baumgartlinger and he played alongside Alario up front (62'). A solo run from Diaby ended with the Frenchman taking a hasty shot that went high over the target (63'). Again Bayern had the better chances with Gnabry going very close (64'). Shortly after that, the ball was once again in the back of Hradecky's net when Lewandowski headed home from a Müller cross to make it 4-1 (66') – goal number 30 for the season from the FC Bayern striker. Bosz brought on Kevin Volland, in place of Alario, for his comeback after recovering from a torn ankle ligament for his first outing since 20 February (75'). Another effort from Diaby was tipped over the bar by Neuer (78').

Wirtz' great first goal

FC Bayern now eased off as they sought to run down the clock. That gave the Werkself considerably more of the game but they failed to really threaten Neuer's goal. Hradecky kept out Lewandowski at the near post (86') and, at the other end, a Diaby square ball failed to find a teammate (87'). Then came an excellent move from Florian Wirtz: The youngster beat Lucas Hernandez in the box and curled a delightful left-foot shot into the net at the far past to make it 4-2 (88') – his first Bundesliga goal. That makes Wirtz Bayer 04's youngest Bundesliga goalscorer of all time. A fine end to the game even though it did not affect the result.

The Werkself are soon back in action. Bayer 04 face FC Saarbrücken in the DFB Cup semi-final in Völklingen on Tuesday, 9 June with the kick-off at 20.45 CET. Bundesliga matchday 31 brings an away fixture at Schalke 04 on Sunday, 14 June (kick-off 18.00 CET).

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Tapsoba, S. Bender, Dragovic – Amiri (Demirbay 46'), Aránguiz, Baumgartlinger (Paulinho 62'), Bailey (Wendell 46') – Bellarabi (Wirtz 46'), Alario (Volland 76'), Diaby

Bayern Munich: Neuer – Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies (Hernández 85') – Kimmich, Goretzka (Martinez 74') – Coman (Perisic 66'), Müller, Gnabry (Thiago 74') – Lewandowski

Goals: 1-0 Alario (10’), 1-1 Coman (27’), 1-2 Goretzka (42’), 1-3 Gnabry (45 +1’), 1-4 Lewandowski (66’), 2-4 Wirtz (88’)

Referee: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)

Booked: Amiri, Bellarabi, Dragovic – Coman, Lewandowski, Müller



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