Gerardo Seoane made just one change from the starting line-up in Tuesday night's 2-0 win in the Champions League against Atlético Madrid: Jeremie Frimpong started in place of Adam Hlozek in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Werkself number 30 played alongside Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right flank with Moussa Diaby on the left wing.
The Werkself made an energetic start to the match, were willing to make challenges, and primarily dominated at the start of the game with lots of possession.
Two minutes after the kick-off: Diaby made a first impressive solo run down the left flank. The Frenchman cut the ball back into the penalty area for Patrik Schick and the Czech Republic striker tried his luck but his shot from a tight angle hit the side netting. With eight minutes on the clock, Piero Hincapie was able to break through to the edge of the penalty area after winning the ball and he too found Schick. His shot from 14 yards out was parried by the Werder keeper Jiri Pavlenka.
The team under head coach Ole Werner proved to be anything but passive, were smart in defence and again and again attacked Jonathan Tah and Co. at pace. Ilia Gruev broke through to the penalty area on nine minutes but Lukas Hradecky was able to punch the ball away.
As the game progressed, the 30,210 crowd at a sold-out BayArena witnessed an ever more intense and fast display from the two teams. The Werkself produced another focused performance as in the game against Atletico Madrid and again and again created counter-attack situations above all with the impressive Frimpong down the right.
Opportunities to take the lead then increased: First, Robert Andrich chipped the ball into the penalty area for teammate Edmond Tapsoba (29') before Andrich himself headed the ball against the bar from a Kerem Demirbay corner (35').
Probably the best opportunity fell to Frimpong on 39 minutes: the Werder keeper first saved a shot from Diaby with the ball rebounding to Frimpong but his low shot from five yards out went past the right-hand post.
Just before half-time, the match was very open with the visitors finding their way through to the Black and Red defence. Bremen's Marvin Ducksch won out in a challenge with Tah and then Füllkrug tried a long-range effort. The Werkself had the better chances to take the lead but both sides lacked accuracy in finishing and the half-time score remained 0-0.
The first chance after the restart fell to the Werner team. Ducksch put the ball through to fellow striker Füllkrug on 54 minutes but Tapsoba was in the right spot and was able to intervene at the last moment. Shortly after that it was the Seoane team who were on the front foot: The ball came to Demirbay from the right. The midfielder was unchallenged as he controlled the ball 20 yards out before firing it into the far corner of the net with his strong left foot to secure a deserved 1-0 lead for the Werkself.
Bremen held firm after conceding and continued to pose a threat as on 61 minutes when Füllkrug headed the ball over the bar from a corner. In turn, Leverkusen had chances again on 65 minutes: A counter-attack saw the Werder keeper remain alert as he just beat Diaby to the ball. It was Diaby again on 75 minutes who cut in from the right but his shot going wide of the far post.
The continuous resistance of Werder paid off on 82 minutes: From another corner from the right, Füllkrug headed for goal, Hradecky produced a reflex save but was unable to clear and the ball landed at the feet of Milos Veljkovic leaving the Werder number 13 with a tap-in through Hradecky's legs to level at 1-1.
The Werkself continued to press forwards with substitute Sardar Azmoun hitting the bar (88') but were unable to create any other clear-cut chances after the Bremen equaliser with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
The Seoane team travel to Bayer Munich after a one-week international break. The match at the record champions is on Friday 30 September. The kick-off is at 20.30 CEST. That is followed four days later by the third group match in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday four October. The Black and Reds are away to Porto. The game kicks off at 21.00 CEST.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Hincapie (Bakker 84'), Tapsoba, Tah, Kossounou – Demirbay (Aránguiz 61'), Andrich – Diaby, Hudson-Odoi (Azmoun 84'), Frimpong (Hlozek 69')– Schick
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka - Pieper, Veljkovic, Friedl - Weiser, Groß (Stark 70'), Jung (Burke 70') - Schmid, Gruev (Rapp 79’) - Füllkrug, Ducksch (Stark 90+4’)
Goals: 1-0 Demirbay (54’), 1-1 Veljkovic (82’)
Booked: Demirbay - Schmid, Pieper
Referee: Tobias Welz (Wiesbaden)
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