Head coach Heiko Herrlich had to manage without skipper Lars Bender in Frankfurt after he was ruled out of the squad due to muscle problems in his right thigh. And reserve keeper Ramazan Özcan was sidelined with a cold. Thorsten Kirschbaum took his place on the bench. Sven Bender, returning from injury, was also took on the bench.
Herrlich made seven changes to the side that faced AEK Larnaca in the final Europa League group match.. Hradecky, Tah, Jedvaj, Aránguiz, Havertz, Bellarabi and Volland were in the starting eleven in place of Kirschbaum, Wendell, Schreck, Baumgartlinger, Paulinho, Kiese Thelin and Alario.
The Werkself, unbeaten in five games, started with a 4-2-3-1 formation. They faced an Eintracht side, who won all six of their group matches in the Europa League, but lost their last two games in the Bundesliga.
It was a hard-fought game from the start with both teams battling on equal terms. The hosts exerted enormous pressure from the first minute and immediately created a dangerous situation when Ante Rebic broke into the box from the left flank. His pass to Sebastien Haller was intercepted by the alert Tin Jedvaj and turned away for a corner. Frankfurt were quickly on the front foot and were not averse to some physical challenges. Kai Havertz certainly felt that when Jetro Willems caught him painfully on the ankle. The Dutchman was rightly shown a yellow card by Dr Felix Brych on four minutes.
Bayer 04 were able to escape the grip of Eintracht early on and succeeded in mounting attacks. A Havertz shot from a corner was blocked by a Frankfurt player – with his hand but unintentionally as referee Brych decided (11'). After a quick counter-attack came the first really good chance for the Werkself when Bellarabi broke through the midfield and put Julian Brandt through on the left. The Germany international forced the Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp into pulling off a fine save to deny his impressive effort (15'). Three minutes later, it was Brandt again who was kept out by Trapp with a shot from a tight angle on the left (18'). Shortly after that, the ball was in the back of the Frankfurt net: Bellarabi hit a long-range shot into the bottom left corner but Dr Brych, after consulting the VAR, awarded a free kick for offside – Aleksandar Dragovic had obstructed the view of Trapp (20').
At the other end, the best chance for Eintracht Frankfurt came from a Jedvaj header as his attempt to clear from a corner went just over his own bar (23'). And then, of all people, it was Danny da Costa, who learned his trade at Bayer 04, who gave the hosts the lead when he netted a tap-in from five yards out following a cross by Kostic (28').
In an extremely fast-paced encounter, Frankfurt were not averse to physical challenge and Havertz was often at the end of it with Evan Ndicka catching him on the ankle again, which also drew a yellow card (29'). Frankfurt had another clear-cut chance when Rebic laid the ball off to Haller in the box only for Lukas Hradecky to intervene on 41 minutes. Shortly after that came the next painful moment for Bayer 04. Mijat Gacinovic court Jonathan Tah on the ankle (43') and Tah had to be treated on the pitch. Another yellow card would not have been undeserved. The Werkself upped their game in the final stages of the first half. Havertz could have scored an equaliser in added time. After a mistake by Simon Falette, Havertz lifted the ball past Trapp but his effort also went wide of the right-hand post (45' +2). Eintracht took a 1-0 lead into half-time but the Werkself were competing on equal terms and just lacked a bit of luck in front of goal.
Frankfurt were on top in the first minutes of the second 45 - Dragovic made a last-ditch sliding tackle to block a shot from Rebic went away for a corner (49'). That was close.
The Werkself were under enormous pressure but Kevin Volland again put the ball in the back of the Frankfurt net only for it to be ruled out for an offside against Jedvaj (56'). Then came the next goal at the other end. A Frankfurt attack involving da Costa and Haller ended up with the ball at the feet of Kostic and he tucked the ball into the net to make it 2-0 (57'). Less than a minute later, Eintracht were nearly 3-0 up when Rebic, under no pressure, put a shot wide of the left upright.
Herrlich reacted by bringing on to fresh attackers in Lucas Alario and Leon Bailey in place of Mitchell Weiser and Charles Aránguiz (63') and changing to three at the back. That quickly paid off. The substitute Bailey hit a ball in from the left, looking to find Alario in the middle, but instead it reached Bellarabi at the far post who hammered the his shot into the net to make it 2-1 (65').
Now it was game on at the Commerzbank Arena. A cross from Kostic was met by Rebic but he hit his shot over the bar when he was well placed (71'). Carlos Salcedo tried to outwit Hradecky with a shot from 16 yards out but the Werkself number one turned it over the bar (77'). Then it was Rebic again through on a one-on one with Hradecky but Jedvaj intervened with the sliding tackle and he slowed down the pace of the ball before Hradecky produced an impressive reflex save (80'). Tah succeeded in blocking a shot from Haller. Frankfurt now clearly had more chances. But then came a great chance for Volland to level but Trapp pulled off an impressive save to keep a shot out at the near post (90' +1). In another counter-attack, Jovic again just missed the target (90' +3). Then came the final whistle at the Commerzbank Arena.
The Werkself are away again on Wednesday. Schalke 04 host Bayer 04 at the Veltins Arena on matchday 16. The game kicks off at 18.30 CET.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - Falette, Salcedo, Ndicka - Willems (de Guzman 84'), G. Fernandes - da Costa, Kostic - Gacinovic (Stendera 90'+1) - Haller, Rebic (Jovic 81')
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Weiser (Bailey 63'), Tah, Dragovic, Jedvaj – Kohr, Aránguiz (Alario 63'), Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt (Paulinho 85') - Volland
Goals: 1-0 da Costa (28'), 2-0 Kostic (57'), 2-1 Bellarabi (65')
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (Munich)
Booked: Willems, Ndicka, Haller, Salcedo, Fernandes, Gacinovic - Bellarabi, Alario
The Werkself host Paderborn in the DFB-Pokal round of 16 today, Wednesday 6 December (18:00 CET) at the BayArena. Here’s all the latest information ahead of the cup clash with the Bundesliga 2 club.Show more
The Bundesliga has announced its nominees for November’s Player of the Month, with two Werkself players up for the award in Alejandro Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong. Fans can now vote for who they want to win.Show more
Next year marks Bayer 04’s 120th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, we would like to take the opportunity, today and in the next few months, to regularly look at football under the Cross on bayer04.de and primarily delve into the question of: How have we become the club we are today? Part two of our series looks at our fans. Werkself supporters are enjoying this season like never before, providing incredible support both home and away.Show more
The Bundesliga has named the three nominees for November’s Rookie of the Month award. Werkself striker Victor Boniface, who has won the trophy in August, September and October, is once again up for the award. Fans have the chance to pick the winner by casting their votes online.Show more