26.11.2019Champions League

2-0 win in Moscow puts Werkself in Europe after Christmas

Bayer 04 will definitely be competing on the European stage after the winter break. The Werkself earned a 2-0 victory in the crucial Champions League away game at Lokomotiv Moscow to secure at least third place in the group. An own goal scored by Rifat Zhemaledtinov put the Peter Bosz team on course (11’) and Sven Bender doubled the lead with a wonder goal (54’).

Peter Bosz was forced to make two changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home to SC Freiburg at the weekend: Mitchell Weiser was sidelined with a torn ligament - he will also miss the rest of the first half of the season -and he was replaced at right back by Panagiotis Retsos, who made his first start in the Champions League. Up front, Leon Bailey was able to play in the Champions League after being suspended in the Bundesliga and he came in for the suspended Nadiem Amiri with Moussa Diaby playing as the number ten.

The run continues: Another own goal

With freezing temperatures in Russia's capital, the Werkself had to survive an early scare: Charles Aránguiz had to be treated on the touchline and the hosts exploited their one-man advantage to score through Aleksey Miranchuk (7'). Fortunately for Bayer 04, the Russian striker was offside. The Werkself needed time to get up to speed. That was reflected in Lukas Hradecky failing to hold on to a shot from Grzegorz Krychowiak but he reacted to prevent the ball crossing the line (10').

Bayer 04 needed a set piece to get into the game – and immediately take the lead: Lokomotiv were unable to clear a corner from Kerem Demirbay as Eder thumped the ball into Rifat Zhemaletdinov and it flew into the net to give the Werkself the lead (11'). The usual run of own goals continues: This is the seventh time this season the Werkself have benefited from the opposition scoring own goals and five of the last seven in the Champions League have come that way.

More attractive Bayer 04 have to thank Hradecky

Bayer 04 settled into the game after taking the lead. The Lokomotiv keeper Guilherme turned an effort from Demirbay from a free kick round the post (50') and held on to a rocket shot from Diaby (22'). The most impressive contribution in the first half was down to Guilherme's opposite number: After a scramble in the Leverkusen penalty area, Anton Miranchuk was suddenly unmarked in front of Hradecky who pulled off an outstanding reflex save to prevent the equaliser – an incredible effort by the Finn (26'). Guilherme also demonstrated his ability in goal: A brilliant through ball from Kevin Volland saw the Lokomotiv keeper make a last-ditch save to deny Bailey (34'). The Werkself were now the more attractive of the teams but nowhere near the dominant side. Bellarabi put a shot just wide after a smart pass from Bailey (40’) and a long-range effort from Eder flashed past the upright (41'). The travelling Bayer 04 fans were ready to celebrate again on the stroke of half-time: After great work from Bailey, Guilherme was only able to parry a shot from Diaby and Volland was unable to put the ball in the net from a tight angle so the chance of a 2-0 lead at half-time went begging (45+2').

Wonder goal: Sven Bender makes it 2-0

In accordance with the state of the game, Peter Bosz made one change at the start of the second half bringing on Julian Baumgartlinger to provide additional cover at the back with Bailey coming off. Diaby moved out the left, Demirbay played as the number ten. That move gave Bayer 04 more solidity in midfield and increasing control of events. The outcome: 2-0. After a free kick was cleared, Aránguiz gently lifted the ball back into the Lokomotiv box and Sven Bender was there to discover his qualities as a goalscorer: The central defender hit his volley from the left side of the penalty area perfectly and the unstoppable effort flew into the right corner of the net – a brilliant strike (54').

That goal gave the Werkself a boost. The Bosz team were now in charge and did well to keep the ball away from their own net with the Russian side reduced to committing more and more fouls to interrupt the visitors' flow. The only threats to the Leverkusen net came towards the end of the game: Jonathan Tah was able to decisively deflect a shot from Eder and Hradecky seized the ball (74'), and minutes later the Finn in the Werkself goal saved a header from substitute Daniil Kulikov (82'). Lokomotiv Moscow did all they could to score as every goal could be crucial – but Bayer 04 were able to overcome the last wave of pressure from the hosts: The other substitute Fedor Smolov was unable to force a cross from Dmitri Barinov into the net (85') and Hradecky was able to save an effort from Aleksey Miranchuk (89')

Third place certain – second spot possible

The Werkself had slight worries towards the end but they kept a clean sheet – an incredibly important detail as the 2-0 win gives Bayer 04 the advantage in a direct comparison with Lokomotiv Moscow and the Russian side will not be able to make up the ground in the last game. That means a place in the Round of 32 in the Europa League is guaranteed in the New Year. Under certain circumstances, the Werkself could qualify for the Round of 16 in the Champions League. That requires a victory against Juventus on 11 December (21.00 CET). Before that, Bayer 04 face another top European team on Saturday (18.30 CET) as Sven Bender & Co. are away to Bayern Munich..

Match stats:

Lokomotiv Moscow: Guilherme - Ignatyev, Corluka, Höwedes, Rybus - Barinov, Krychowiak - Zhemaledtinov (Kulikov 65’), Al. Miranchuk, An. Miranchuk - Eder (Smolov 77’)

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Retsos, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aránguiz, Demirbay (L. Bender 90’) – Bellarabi (Alario 77’), Diaby, Bailey (Baumgartlinger 46’) – Volland

Goals: 0-1 Zhemaledtinov (o.g. 11’), 0-2 S. Bender (54’)

Referee: Michael Oliver (England)

Booked: Höwedes, Ignatyev, Corluka, Barinov - Wendell

Attendance: 25,700



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