2-4: Werkself trouble but fail to bring Bayern down

Bayer 04 were unable to prevent FC Bayern winning the double again: In spite of a very strong performance in the second half, the Werkself lost 4-2 in the DFB Cup final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Leverkusen were 3-0 down on the hour mark due to goals from David Alaba, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski but they did put the favourites under heavy pressure after that. Sven Bender and Kai Havertz scored for Bayer 04.

While there were no fans allowed at the Olympic Stadium, the Werkself were not lacking in support ahead of DFB Cup final number 04. Leverkusen showed its colours more and more day by day this week: A landmark such as the Water Tower was given a red Bayer 04 covering, flags were raised at Schloss Morsbroich, the BayArena, town hall ,Bayer Erholungshaus and the Bayer Casino, flags with a cup final motif waived from countless windows and the Werkself were given a guard of honour by more than 1,000 fans in an emotional farewell from the stadium as the team bus made its way to the airport. The message was clear: A city is backing its team!

Around 700 people were at the 77th DFB Cup final in Berlin including 200 or so members of the media, Germany coach Joachim Löw and Germany technical director Oliver Bierhoff, plus the former Bayer 04 managing directors Reiner Calmund, Wolfgang Holzhäuser and Michael Schade plus Werkself honorary captains Ulf Kirsten, Rüdiger Vollborn and Stefan Kießling. From their seats in the stands they were able to look down at a black and red decorated Bayer 04 end with a bold and simple message at the marathon gate: "Bring the cup back to LEV – make history."

Havertz up front

Bayer 04 were without the unlucky Paulinho (torn cruciate) and Daley Sinkgraven with the Dutchman missing out on his 25th birthday due to muscular problems. Peter Bosz opted to play Kai Havertz up front in his starting eleven after he missed both the Bundesliga matches against Bayern this season, backed by an attacking trio formed of the two wingers Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby plus Nadiem Amiri in the central position. There were five changes from the side that faced Mainz in the final Bundesliga fixture: Jonathan Tah, Kerem Demirbay, Florian Wirtz, Kevin Volland (all on the bench) and Sinkgraven were replaced by Edmond Tapsoba, Charles Aránguiz, Diaby, Havertz and Wendell.

Peter Bosz gave Amiri a tactically very important task as the Werkself number eleven was intended to prevent Joshua Kimmich playing as the starting off point for counter-attacks. Bayer 04 made a decent start to the game and looked lively and confident on the ball. FC Bayern had the first shot but the effort from Kimmich went high over the target (9'). Before that, Wendell did well to clear from Thomas Müller (8'). Lukas Hradecky was tested for the first time on ten minutes with the Finn comfortably holding onto a curler from Kingsley Coman aimed at the far post.

Bayern take lead from free kick

The pattern for the Werkself quickly became clear: Amiri put Leon Bailey through on the left and the Jamaican dribbled through but his shot on goal failed to find the target (14'). At the other end, the Munich side used a set piece to take the lead: Tapsoba gave away an unnecessary free kick on the edge of the box by barging Lewandowski. Alaba curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner to beat Hradecky from 18 yards out – 1-0 to the favourites (16'). Shortly after that, Hradecky pulled off a brilliant save to deny Müller who inadvertently deflected a Gnabry shot towards goal (21'). And then the Werkself keeper was again left helpless: Kimmich passed to Gnabry and he slotted his shot into the far corner to double the lead at 2-0 (24').

Leverkusen obviously wanted to avoid such a scenario. A counter-attack via Havertz and Bailey ended with Diaby failing to control the ball (31'), and then Bailey hit a Diaby across over the bar a minute later although he was just offside. With a chance for Amiri, the would-be scorer was again in an offside position (42'). The Bayer 04 delegation tried to support their team on the pitch from the stands with some rhythmical clapping during this phase. Lars Bender had a shot from a free kick but his effort was hit straight at Manuel Neuer (45+ 1'). FC Bayern went into half-time with a 2-0 lead.

Massive chance goes begging

Peter Bosz reacted at half-time by bringing on Demirbay and Volland for the second 45 in place of Julian Baumgartlinger and Amiri. Havertz dropped back into the number 10 position. However, Bayern continued to dominate and pose a threat. Tapsoba just managed to get a slight touch to a shot from Gnabry that saw the ball slide past the far post (49'). Lewandowski hit a left-foot shot falling back and the ball went high over the bar (55'). Then came a great chance to pull a goal back: Diaby broke down the right and squared the ball to Volland but he completely failed to connect (57') – what a chance!

Hradecky caught out

Two minutes later came the decider: Lewandowski tried his luck from 30 yards out and Hradecky appeared to be able to control the ball but he parried it against his foot and the ball trickled over the line – 3-0 for FC Bayern. The Werkself refused to give up: Jerome Boateng just managed to intervene from a Havertz cross to prevent Bailey having a shot (63'). A minute later, Sven Bender outwitted Alaba and headed home a corner from Demirbay to make it 3-1 (64'). And Bayer 04 stuck at it: Havertz and Volland just failed to connect with a Diaby cross (66').

Really impressive phase from Werkself

The Werkself now had by far their best phase of the game and played in a calm and dominant manner. Havertz put Volland through but he was unable to control the ball (71'). Bayer 04 forced FC Bayern into making mistakes and losing the ball – and everybody could sense: Something might be on! Although luck was in for the Werkself shortly after that when Lewandowski just failed to connect with a cross from Ivan Perisic (74'). Hradecky then comfortably saved an effort from Perisic (75'). The Werkself came again: A shot from Bailey was deflected just over the bar of Neuer's goal (75'). Karim Bellarabi replaced the Jamaican a minute later.

Lack of precision with chances

Now there was an exciting cup encounter on equal terms. Would the Werkself be able to pull it back to 3-2 or Bayern wrap the game up? Bayer 04 took a risk and put everything on one card. Mitchell Weiser then replaced the very impressive skipper Lars Bender (81'). Diaby this time broke down the left but he failed to pick out Bellarabi in the middle of the box (85') – that was another great chance. Bayern finally sealed the result when Lewandowski made it 4-1 (89'). Havertz had the last input on the game when he converted a penalty following a handball for the final score of 4-2 to FC Bayern (90+4'). That was the last kick of the 77th DFB Cup final of the referee did not restart after the goal.

The Bayer 04 players will go on holiday immediately after returning to Leverkusen on Sunday afternoon. However, that is not the end of the season: The Werkself still have a major iron in the fire in the Europa League and they will play Glasgow Rangers in the second leg of the Round of 16 on 5 or 6 August. Leverkusen won the first leg 3-1. That was the last game in front of a crowd before the coronavirus pandemic. Bayer 04 are set to resume training on 23 July.

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender (Weiser 81'), Tapsoba, S. Bender, Wendell – Aránguiz, Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 46') – Bailey (Bellarabi 76'), Amiri (Volland 46'), Diaby – Havertz

Bayern Munich: Neuer – Pavard, Boateng (Hernandez 69'), Alaba, Davies – Kimmich, Goretzka – Gnabry (Coutinho 87'), Müller (Tiago 87'), Coman (Perisic 65') – Lewandowski

Goals: 0-1 Alaba (16’), 0-2 Gnabry (24’), 0-3 Lewandowski (59’), 1-3 S. Bender (64’), 1-4 Lewandowski (89’), 2-4 Havertz (pen. 90+4’)

Referee: Tobias Welz (Wiesbaden)

Booked: Wendell – Lewandowski


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