Xabi Alonso made three changes to his starting line-up compared with the 2-2 draw with VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. Piero Hincapie came in for Jonathan Tah in defence. Nadiem Amiri replaced the injured Kerem Demirbay in midfield to make his first start of the season, and Callum Hudson-Odoi began up front in place of Amine Adli.
Both teams were fully focused at the start of the game on an impressive stage at the Estadio Metropolitano. The hosts were initially more in the Leverkusen half but it was the visitors who quickly found the right method to penetrate the Atléti defence: Robert Andrich won the ball from Antoine Griezmann with a strong tackle on the edge of the Madrid penalty area, then passed to Adam Hlozek who slotted the ball through to Moussa Diaby. The Frenchman picked out his target and hit the ball from a tight angle into the net at the far post to give the Werkself an early 1-0 lead (9').
At the other end, the Simeone team had their first clear-cut opportunity from a counter-attack on 13 minutes through Ángel Correa. But Lukas Hradecky was able to save the low shot from the Argentinian. On 22 minutes, the Rojiblancos were again on the front foot as they pressed for the equaliser: Yannick Carrasco played a one-two with teammate Griezmann on the edge of the penalty area and then he hit a low shot into the net at the near post to make it 1-1.
The Black and Reds were undaunted and remained focused on the task at hand. As with the opening goal, winning possession was crucial on 29 minutes – this time involving Amiri in the middle who came out on top against José Maria Giménez before picking out Hudson-Odoi. The Englishman cut inside and hit the ball into the top left corner to restore the lead at 2-1.
The Alonso team remained physically strong in the following minutes and had good chances from transition play with Diaby attempting a shot (39') and Amiri going on an impressive solo run. Before that, Hradecky pulled off a reflex save to keep out a shot deflected off Hincapie from a corner (42’). The Werkself went into half-time with a 2-1 lead.
After the restart, the Rojiblancos looked like a different team as they again and again pressed forward at pace to threaten the Leverkusen defence. That culminated in substitute Rodrigo de Paul hitting an effort into the top right corner five minutes after the restart to level the scores at 2-2 (50').
It was end-to-end after that: Atléti also dominated proceedings after the equaliser and striker Griezmann threatened with some dangerous efforts (58', 60') but Hradecky was again in the right place. After intense minutes with lots of challenges and pressing from the Simeone team, Leverkusen had more of the play in the final 15 minutes. Diaby came off and substitute Paulinho provided the main threat. The Brazilian first tried a shot to the far corner from the left of the box but the Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak made an impressive reflex save (82'). The Werkself number seven was on the ball again from a long cross but his effort on goal was too weak allowing Oblak to make the save (86').
Both teams look to create chances in the final minutes but without success. In added time the scoreline was 2-2. Referee Turpin blew the final whistle. But the referee was then alerted by VAR to a possible handball by Hincapie in the final move and he awarded a penalty to Atlético. Carrasco had the chance to put his team through to the next round in the Champions League but Hradecky made the save and a follow-up effort hit the bar. The 2-2 draw gives the Black and Reds the chance of being in the UEFA Europa League in the New Year. The Werkself now have four points and Atlético one more.
The Werkself are next in action on Bundesliga matchday 12: The Alonso team are away to RB Leipzig on Saturday 29 October (kick-off: 15.30 CEST). That is followed three days later by the final group match in the UEFA Champions League. Leverkusen entertain Club Brugge at the BayArena. The match on 1 November kicks off at 18.45 CET.
Atlético Madrid: Oblak - Molina, Giménez (Joao Felix 87'), Hermoso (Saúl Niguez 45'), Reinildo - Correa (De Paul 45’), Kondogbia, Witsel, Carrasco - Morata (Cunha 60’), Griezmann
Bayer 04: Hradecky - Kossounou, Tapsoba (Tah 60’), Hincapie - Frimpong, Andrich, Amiri, Bakker - Diaby (Paulinho 76’), Hlozek (Fosu-Mensah 89’), Hudson-Odoi (Adli 60’)
Goals: 0-1 Diaby (9’), 1-1 Carrasco (22’), 1-2 Hudson-Odoi (29’), 2-2 De Paul (50’)
Booked: Alonso, Hradecky, Bakker, Hincapie - Griezmann, Kondogbia
Referee: Clement Turpin (Montceau Bourgogne)
Attendance: 63,803 at the Estadio Metropolitano
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