Simon Rolfes was clearly happy with the convincing win after the game. “We created a number of chances in the first half and we deserved the win. Perhaps we could have been more decisive in going for the third goal but the main thing is we picked up three points. On top of that, not conceding is always good,” said the sporting director. Sven Bender took a similar view: “We’ve given the fans the chance to celebrate again. It felt really good today.” And Kevin Volland noted: “There was a bit of pressure after three games without a win. We were very focused today.”
Peter Bosz made three changes to the side that started the Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday: Aleksandar Dragovic, Nadiem Amiri and Lucas Alario came in for Jonathan Tah, Leon Bailey (torn muscle) and Karim Bellarabi. Tah and Bellarabi were on the bench alongside Kerem Demirbay, who was recently sidelined due to back problems. The Werkself played in a 3-2-4-1 formation.
After losing to the Russian cup winners in the Champions League, the Werkself were keen to make amends in front of their own fans at the BayArena. The hosts were committed from the start in glorious late summer weather. The Berliners sat back against Bayer 04 and succeeded in closing down space in their own half taking account of the weather conditions: The Werkself moved the ball well in constant search for a breakthrough. As on eleven minutes when Charles Aránguiz picked out the run of Kevin Volland on the edge of the box but the striker just failed to reach the diagonal ball from the Chilean.
The game took off shortly after that. A low cross from Lars Bender was turned in to the net by Alario for the apparent opener on 16 minutes. But the VAR from Cologne intervened: Referee Hartmann reviewed the action on the monitor and decided Volland was offside although there was no indisputable evidence – no goal and the match remained goalless. But that did not last long: After good work from Nadiem Amiri, a Volland shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked but the second volleyed effort flew into the net to make it 1-0 for Bayer 04 (20’). And they soon doubled the lead. Wendell put Alario through and the Argentinian found the back of the net by the post from 20 yards out (25’).
Union were obviously under pressure to be more adventurous up front at this point. However, that was not automatic and the Berliners did not produce any decent moves in the Leverkusen half before the break. That was mainly due to the alert approach of the Werkself players who kept their shape and remained patient at all times. Bayer 04 controlled the ball and the opposition and they took a deserved 2-0 lead into the half-time break.
Amiri had the first shot after the restart but the ball was deflected away for a corner. And that proved to be dangerous but Julian Baumgartlinger and Volland were unable to apply the final touch (53’). A left-foot shot from Kai Havertz lacked the power to test the Union keeper Rafal Gikiewicz (56’) and a Wendell effort two minutes later was wide of the target. The Berliners then faded themselves: Sebastian Polter, who had only just come on as a sun, caught Baumgartlinger from behind. Hartmann initially produced a yellow card but the intervention of the VAR in Cologne and viewing the monitor lead the referee to show the red card (66’).
Bayer 04 now had the extra man and Mitchell Weiser was on in place of Lars Bender (67’). Demirbay then came on for the injured Baumgartlinger (70’). A Weiser shot from a good position flew over the bar (72’) and a chip from Demirbay almost put Gikiewicz in trouble (74’). Demirbay then hit a firmer shot and the Union keeper struggled to control the ball (77’). Then Aránguiz, Amiri and Volland, with a back heel, were kept out by Gikiewicz (79’). The Werkself were close to making it 3-0 while ten-man Union focused on damage limitation.
Havertz went very close to scoring the third goal but his shot hit the bar (82’). Paulinho then replaced Amiri – to join Weiser in making his first appearance of the season (83’). At the other end, a header from Sebastian Andersson from a free kick looked dangerous but Weiser cleared (85’). The end of the match saw the Werkself celebrate the third win in their fifth Bundesliga game.
Bayer 04 are back in action on Bundesliga matchday six with an away game at FC Augsburg on Saturday 28 September in a 15.30 CET kick-off.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Dragovic, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 70’), Aránguiz – L. Bender (Weiser 67’), Havertz, Amiri (Paulinho 83’), Volland – Alario
FC Union Berlin: Gikiewicz – Trimmel, Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Lenz (Reichel 49’) – Gentner, Andrich – Becker (Gogia 46’), Ingvartsen (Polter 61’), Bülter – Andersson
Goals: 1-0 Volland (20’), 2-0 Alario (25’)
Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)
Sent off: Polter (66’/serious foul play)
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