Leverkusen were suitably downcast after the final whistle. “Our first 20 minutes were absolutely awful and we conceded due to our own mistakes. We couldn't get hold of Filip Kostic but that was down to us all and not just one person. We were much better in the second half but didn't take our chances. We'll have to put this game behind us," declared Kevin Volland. Julian Baumgartlinger said: "We were much too passive in the opening stages of the game. We can't afford to do that and we performed well below par."
Peter Bosz made four changes to his starting eleven from the last Bundesliga match against Leipzig. Aleksandar Dragovic and Wendell took the places of Jonathan Tah (on bench) and Daley Sinkgraven (muscular injury), Kerem Demirbay replaced Charles Aránguiz (foot injury) and, up front, Lucas Alario was preferred to Karim Bellarabi (bench). Leon Bailey did not make the squad after suffering an injury in pre-match training. Frankfurt had to manage late on without their Portuguese striker Andre Silva (foot injury) and Eintracht opted for an extremely powerful front two of Bas Dost and Goncalo Paciencia.
"We know Frankfurt will be very aggressive so it's important that we play the ball quickly," said Peter Bosz ahead of the kick-off. But it was the hosts who immediately struck first: The former Leverkusen player Danny da Costa played a billion all from the right into the box where Paciencia was able to elude Dragovic and Mitchell Weiser before slotting the ball past Lukas Hradecky – an early lead for the hosts (4'). In a quick counter attack, Martin Hinteregger prevented Havertz shooting (5'). Frankfurt continue to set the pace: Further chances fell to Sebastian Rode who failed to beat Hradecky from close range (7') and then it was Paciencia who went close with a header that flashed over the bar (9'). The opening stages of the game dominated by the incredibly effective Eintracht.
Lucas Alario had the first shot for Leverkusen but his low drive on the turn from 18 yards out flew just wide of the post (15'). Frankfurt hit straight back to double the lead: In an attempted clearance shot from Paciencia it Dragovic's hand and the Portuguese converted the spot kick to double the lead for Eintracht (16'). Frankfurt put the Werkself in trouble time after time and the industrious Kostic also beat Hradecky but the goal was correctly chalked off for offside (23'). When Rode brought Nadiem Amiri down in the box there was neither a whistle from referee Christian Dingert nor a signal from the VAR studio in Cologne (26').
Peter Bosz reacted by bringing on Karim Bellarabi in place of Weiser who was unable to cope with Kostic on the right flank. However, Bayer 04 failed to get a grip of the opposition and played into the hands Frankfurt with numerous poor passes and loss of possession. When Havertz whipped the ball into the box, Julian Baumgartlinger was so surprised that the ball bounced off him and over the bar from eleven yards out (37') – that could have put Bayer 04 back in the game. And an effort from Alario shortly after that aimed at the near post from an Amiri free kick hit the side netting (39').
At the other end, Hradecky made an unorthodox clearance with his head and shoulder to deny Paciencia (41'). Alario then had a great chance to score but the Eintracht keeper Rönnow was able to make a brilliant save from the Argentinian’s volley after a cross from Bellarabi (42'). Frankfurt went into half-time with a deserved 2-0 lead.
The Werkself were clearly intent on getting back into the game after the restart as they sought to reduce the deficit as soon as possible. Havertz had to be treated on the pitch after a foul by Rode but he was able to carry on (49'). Rönnow then held onto a whipped-in effort for Bellarabi (53'), and three minutes later able to hold on to a shot from him after a solo-run across half the pitch (56'). Bayer 04 were now back in the game. An attempt by Havertz from a promising position lacked precision and did not pose any problems for Rönnow (57') but again showed the Werkself were capable of scoring. Then came another setback: Wendell held onto his left thigh and limped off the pitch to be replaced by Lars Bender who played on the right side of a back three (64').
Bayer 04 very nearly made it 2-1: A cross from Volland saw Alario rise highest but his close-range header was saved by Rönnow with his feet (66'). Baumgartlinger's effort on the follow-up was blocked. A strike by Dost at the other end was ruled out for offside (67'). The duel between Bellarabi and Rönnow continued: The Frankfurt keeper came out on top twice in quick succession (68'/69'). VAR came into effect when Gelson Fernandes appeared to block a cross from Volland with his hand: Dingert took another look at the incident and came to the conclusion that the ball hit the Frankfurt player in the face (71'). A deflected shot from Havertz was clumsily turned over the bar by Rönnow (76').
A consolation goal would have been deserved as the visitors practically played in only one direction in the second half. Havertz missed by a mile on 78 minutes, Volland saw the ball rebound of his foot allowing Rönnow to make a save (79'). Then the effective Eintracht side wrapped it up: Dost beat Hradecky to make it 3-0 on 80 minutes. That was game over for the Werkself: Moussa Diaby, who came on for Alario, was also unable to beat Rönnow (90'). In the end, the stats showed 17 shots on goal for the Werkself and nearly all of those were after the half-time break.
The Werkself now face three busy weeks starting with the next game in the Champions League at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday 22 October with the kick-off at 18.55 CET. Four days later, Werder Bremen are the visitors to the BayArena in the Bundesliga on Saturday 26 October, 18.30 CET
Eintracht Frankfurt: Rönnow – Touré (Abraham 30’), Hasebe, Hinteregger – Fernandes – da Costa, Sow (Kohr 84’), Rode, Kostic – Dost (Gacinovic 85’), Paciencia
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Dragovic, S. Bender, Wendell (L. Bender 64’) – Baumgartlinger, Demirbay – Weiser ( Bellarabi 30’), Havertz, Amiri, Volland – Alario (Diaby 82’)
Goals: 1-0 Paciencia (4’), 2-0 Paciencia (16’ pen.), 3-0 Dost (80’)
Referee: Christian Dingert (Gries)
Booked: Fernandes – Dragovic
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