Werkself share points in 1-1 draw at Leipzig

Bayer 04 drew 1-1 at RB Leipzig in a high-quality Bundesliga encounter. The Werkself excelled against their second-placed opponents, particularly in the first half, and took a deserved lead through Leon Bailey (29’), which was cancelled out shortly after by Patrik Schick (32’).

Bayer 04 coach Peter Bosz made three changes from the team that started in the 3-1 win at Porto on Thursday. Exequiel Palacios returned to the side in place of injured captain Lars Bender (bruised hip), Wendell replaced Daley Sinkgraven on the left side of defence and in attack, Leon Bailey was preferred to Moussa Diaby, who was still in the squad after the birth of his son – as was Charles Aránguiz, who recovered from illness.


From the first minute it was clear that two of the top teams in the Bundesliga were going up against each other, with early pressing, high tempo and high intensity. The Werkself started confidently, were quick in the challenge and asked questions of the hosts’ defence early on. Kerem Demirbay had the first attempt on goal in the fifth minute, when his curler warmed the gloves of RB goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. Defensively Bosz’s men also started well, hardly giving Leipzig’s star-studded attack a sniff of goal – as epitomised by an excellent tackle by Sven Bender on Germany striker Timo Werner in the penalty area. 

Bayer 04 remained the more dominant and threatening side. Palacios fired just wide with the outside of his boot (21’) and Kai Havertz shot straight at Gulacsi (23’), who also smothered a header from Lucas Alario (28’). An opening goal was coming and it did so just a minute later. Nadiem Amiri charged down the right-hand side and played in Havertz, who lifted his head up and played a classy cut-back to Bailey, who finished off a quick move to give Bayer 04 the lead.


The goal was the reward for a great first half-hour from the Werkself, which made it even more frustrating that the lead didn’t last long as Leipzig equalised with their first real chance of the game, Schick rising highest from Christopher Nkunku’s cross and heading into the left corner. It remained the hosts’ only opening of the first half, with Bayer 04 regaining their ascendancy in the contest. After a nice move down the left, Angelino blocked Amiri’s fierce volley (39’), before Alario was denied by Gulacsi after running through the opposition half. The 1-1 scoreline at the break was certainly flattering for RB.


Having had little to do in the first half, Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky was called into action less than a minute after the restart, making a fine save from Nkunku. This acted as a wake-up call for Leipzig, who now pushed higher up the pitch and began to attack more. But Bayer managed to calm things down and keep their opponents at bay with some gentle passing, and it was they who had the next opportunity in the 57th minute, when Bailey tested Gulacsi. 

With Leipzig now having significantly more of the play than in the first half, it became an open and entertaining contest with chances for both sides. Demirbay’s shot was deflected narrowly off-target (61’), while at the other end, Schick headed wide from a corner after Amiri had blocked a dangerous effort from Angelino (63’). Bosz decided to bring in the tactical nous of Charles Aránguiz during this intense period, with the Chilean replacing Palacios (64’). The Werkself boss made another substitution minutes later, bringing on new father Diaby for Bailey. At the same time, Leipzig took off Werner – who had been well contained by the Werkself defence – and threw on Yussuf Poulsen (71’).


Not too much more happened after that as the two teams cancelled each other out and played with discipline. It was only in the dying minutes that both teams created any notable opportunities. Marcel Sabitzer’s long-range effort whistled over the bar (87’), while the Werkself had a claim for a penalty when Alario’s shot was blocked by the arm of Nordi Mukiele – but referee Felix Zwayer turned away their justified appeals (89’). 

And so it ended 1-1 and Bayer’s run of six successive wins in all competitions came to an end, but the performance should give them further confidence ahead of Wednesday’s DFB Cup quarter-final against Union Berlin. Kick-off at the BayArena is 18:30 CET.

Match stats:

RB Leipzig: Gulacsi - Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg - Mukiele, Sabitzer, Angelino - Forsberg, Nkunku (Haidara 76') - Schick (Wolf 82'), Werner (Poulsen 71')

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Tah, S. Bender, Tapsoba –Amiri, Palacios (Aránguiz 64'), Demirbay, Wendell – Havertz, Alario (Bellarabi 90'), Bailey (Diaby 71')

Goals: 0-1 Bailey (29'), 1-1 Schick (32')

Referee: Felix Zwayer (Berlin)

Booked: Demirbay, Tah, Diaby

Attendance: 42,216

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