Peter Bosz made two changes to the side that won 3-1 in Mönchengladbach on Saturday. Wendell replaced Daley Sinkgraven at left back and Nadiem Amiri came into the starting line-up in place of Aleksandar Dragovic. The Werkself started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kai Havertz and Amiri playing up front. Jonathan Tah returned to the squad after recovering from a back injury but Lars Bender and Kevin Volland are still sidelined.
It was clear from the start how the match should turn out from a Werkself perspective. Almost straight from the kick-off, Leverkusen mounted a promising attack with Amiri breaking down the left before crossing to the edge of the box but the ball bobbled as Charles Aránguiz tried to control it and a decent chance was gone (1'). Shortly after that, the Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels was caught outside his penalty area but he was fortunate that the attempted lob from Moussa Diaby was turned away for a corner by Pongracic (5').
At the other end, VfL mounted a counter attack down the left and a pass into the middle from Joao Victor was intercepted by Edmund Tapsoba to prevent Wout Weghorst getting to the ball – another great intervention by the central defender (12'). And the visitors continued to press: Lukas Hradecky made himself big to prevent Victor scoring the opening goal (16'). Wolfsburg, unbeaten in their last four away games, proved to be the expected awkward customers and they posed problems up front.
The Werkself found it difficult to make headway against a well-organised and lively opponent and there was often a lack of tempo, true precision and crisp passing. A corner from Amiri caused problems for Casteels and that was followed by a chance for Havertz from a Karim Bellarabi cross but his header went just over the top of the Wolfsburg net (38') – at least there were two attempts on goal for Leverkusen. But it was VfL who broke the deadlock from a set piece: Central defender Pongracic connected with the free kick from Arnold and his header beat the helpless Hradecky – 1-0 (43'). And the visitors took their lead into half-time with a lack of energy clear to see in Bayer 04 three days after the clash in Mönchengladbach.
Peter Bosz reacted by making three changes the start of the second 45: Dragovic, Baumgartlinger and the youngster Florian Wirtz came on for Sven Bender, Mitchell Weiser and Karim Bellarabi. Bayer 04 now played with a back three with Aránguiz in the centre alongside Dragovic and Tapsoba. However, the first chance again fell to the visitors: Josip Brekalo was through in a one-on-one with Hradecky but the Finland international made himself big to prevent a second goal being conceded (47').
Wirtz played a brilliant diagonal ball into the path of Diaby but Kevin Mbabu put a stop to the Frenchman's run in the penalty area (50'). Casteels held on to a cross from the left from Diaby to prevent Havertz having the chance to score (58'). The Werkself gave their all to get into the game and looked to be back in the running on the hour mark. But VfL continued to have the chances: Hradecky made a brilliant save with his left hand to turn a shot from Steffen away (63'). But the Bayer 04 shot-stopper was helpless a minute later when an Arnold free kick was deflected into the net to make it 2-0 (64').
And it got worse for the Werkself: A rapid attack down the left ended with Steffen outjumping Wendell to score with a header – 3-0 (68'). And another free kick from Arnold was headed into the net by Pongracic to give the visitors a 4-0 lead on 75 minutes. For the Werkself, it was one of those days where absolutely nothing appeared to work. That was evident in an excellent shot on the turn from Havertz when just past the top corner of the Wolfsburg goal (77'). At least there was a consolation goal for the hosts: Wirtz did well in providing the assist for Baumgartlinger to make it 4-1 (85'). Daniel Ginczek and Weghorst both had chances in added time to put VfL 5-1 up.
Bayer 04 are in action again on Friday, 29 May, for the fourth match in twelve days with another away game at SC Freiburg (kick-off: 20.30 CET).
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Weiser (Baumgartlinger 46'), S. Bender (Dragovic 46’), Tapsoba, Wendell – Aránguiz, Demirbay (Alario 65’) – Bellarabi (Wirtz 46’), Amiri, Diaby (Bailey 74’) – Havertz
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks (Knoche 82’), Roussillon – Schlager, Arnold – Steffen ( Marmoush 76’), Joao Victor, Brekalo (Ginczek 63’) – Weghorst
Goals: 0-1 Pongracic (43’), 0-2 Arnold (64’). 0-3 Steffen (68’), 0-4 Pongracic (75’), 1-4 Baumgartlinger (85’)
Referee: Daniel Schlager (Hügelsheim)
Booked: Demirbay, Baumgartlinger, Diaby – Joao Victor, Ginczek, Casteels
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