Werkself fail to score in home defeat to Hertha

The final game of 2019 at the BayArena ended in huge disappointment for the Werkself: Bayer 04 lost 1-0 to Hertha Berlin in the second home defeat of the season. Karim Rekik netted the only goal of the game on 64 minutes. Bayer 04 toiled but were unable to create any decent chances against disciplined, defensive visitors.

Peter Bosz made three changes to the side that started against FC Köln: Aleksandar Dragovic, Wendell and Julian Baumgartlinger replaced Jonathan Tah, Daley Sinkgraven and Lucas Alario. Dragovic was , for two yellow cards, at FC Köln as was Leon Bailey who was shown a straight red. Baumgartlinger and Karim Bellarabi were sidelined after falling ill overnight. That resulted in the two U19 players Adrian Stanilewicz and Ayman Azhil joining the squad.

Following the disappointing defeat in Cologne, where both the result and the performance left a lot to be desired, the Werkself were obviously keen to make amends. “I expect the team to show a reaction on the pitch,” said Peter Bosz ahead of the clash with the Berliners. And sporting managing director Rudi Völler declared: “It’s down to the team to show what they’re capable of and do much better.”

Diaby shines early on

The hosts set out in determined fashion from the kick-off. Bayer 04 immediately looked to play at a high tempo and take on the deep-lying Hertha who packed the midfield. The first effort of the game came from Kevin Volland but his header from a cross by Moussa Diaby, who was playing on the right, flew a yard wide of the upright (6’). The Werkself came closer to scoring when Diaby cut inside and aimed at the near post but Rune Jarstein dived at the right moment to turn the shot away for a corner (9’). In the next attack, Volland shot from the left but it only found the side netting (10’). A Nadiem Amiri shot was too straight to cause Jarstein any problems (15’).

Hertha twice dangerous on the break

Leverkusen were clearly on top in the opening stages and they were very active in pressing the ball and breaking up a lot of the Hertha build-up play. Jarstein parried a chip to the far post from Lucas Alario (18’). Amiri’s cross from the left found Kai Havertz in the box and he tried to chest the ball past the opponent but Marvin Plattenhardt managed to get a foot to it (19’). Hertha looked to play on the break and they had two very dangerous efforts within a minute: A low drive from Javairo Dilrosun flew just wide of the post and Lukas Hradecky was called into action to keep out a Davie Selke shot to the front post (21’). Those two moments clearly showed the Werkself had to be on their guard when Hertha made their transitional play.

A good solo run by the very lively Diaby ended with Havertz inadvertently blocking his shot with his head (34’). A cross from the left by Sinkgraven led to a Diaby shot that failed to trouble Jarstein (37’). At the other end, Dilrosun cut inside but his shot went over the bar (44’). It was goalless at half-time – Bayer 04 had 70 per cent possession and 12 shots on goal to three but were unable to find the way through an alert and packed Berlin defence.

Alario misses chance to score opener

Panos Retsos replaced the skipper Lars Bender at right back at the restart. The Werkself immediately went on the front foot: Sinkgraven opened up the Hertha defence with an excellent pass, Alario raced away down the left flank but his effort from a promising position missed the target (46’) – that could have been the opener. Hradecky held on to a Dilrosun shot to the near post at the other end (57’).

Volland misses chance to level

It remained a waiting game for the Werkself who had to work very hard to create any decent chances. Many a good move was disrupted by a lack of accurate passing by the hosts. And then came a bolt out of the blue for Leverkusen: Hradecky was able to parry a shot from Rekik but the ball popped up leaving the Hertha central defender with a simple tap-in to make it 1-0 on 64 minutes. Almost straight away Jarstein pulled off a great save to keep out a Volland header from a Diaby cross (66’).

Paulinho strike chalked off

With a very flattering lead, the Berlin team continued to play a defensive game. Peter Bosz brought on Paulinho for Havertz (71’). Hertha could have doubled their lead but Hradecky saved brilliantly in a one-on-one with substitute Pascal Köpke (74’). When Paulinho did beat Jarstein from an Alario pass, the assistant referee rightly raised his flag – offside (78’). The Werkself were increasingly desperate but there was a lack of wit and determination. There were four minutes of added time. Volland’s header from a Diaby cross lacked any power (90+3’). The final whistle came and the Werkself trudged off the pitch disappointed after the second home defeat of the season.

Bayer 04 have one game left in 2019: The last matchday of the first half of the season sees the Werkself travel to south for the away game at Mainz 05 on Saturday 21 December at 15.30.

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender (Retsos 46’), Tah, S. Bender, Sinkgraven – Aránguiz – Diaby, Havertz (Paulinho 71’), Amiri, Volland – Alario

Hertha Berlin: Jarstein – Klünter, Boyata, Rekik, Plattenhardt – Darida (Maier 90’), Skjelbred, Grujic – Lukebakio (Wolf 65’), Dilrosun – Selke (Köpke 72’)

Goals: 0-1 Rekik (64’)

Referee: Bastian Dankert (Rostock)

Booked: Volland, Paulinho – Grujic, Skjelbred, Darida

Attendance: 24,472


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