In his first competitive fixture as the Werkself coach, Gerardo Seoane fielded a new signing in his starting line-up: Odilon Kossounou began in central defence alongside Panagiotis Retsos who has returned from a loan spell after having last played for the Werkself in December 2019. Mitchel Bakker was sidelined due to an injury – as were Edmond Tapsoba, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Lucas Alario as well as Florian Wirtz late-on due to a muscle problem, and Jonathan Tah (suspension carried over from last season) and Paulinho (Olympic gold medal winner with Brazil) were also unavailable.
Regardless of the missing players, Seoane and his team were first out of the blocks: Karim Bellarabi looked to have evaded his opponent Damir Mehmedovic on the right wing but was then fouled in the box. Kerem Demirbay converted the penalty to the bottom right of the net for the first competitive goal of the new season (6'). Bayer 04 were clearly on course for victory shortly after that: From a Demirbay corner, Kossounou rose to meet the ball and flicked it on to the far post where Bellarabi was on hand to finish – even if there was a possibility of offside – to make it 2-0 for the Seoane team (14').
The fact Bayer 04 were on top of their game from the start was also due to the hosts from Leipzig making it clear to the Werkself that they had to put in 100 per cent. The Regional League side had good chances before the two Leverkusen goals through Maik Salewski (4') and Leon Heynke (12') and that could have changed the shape of the game. Instead the Werkself controlled the match with great confidence and had half-chances through Patrik Schick (17') and the very agile Bellarabi (25').
The right-winger was not just a clear asset in the first half hour of the game with his involvement in both goals – so it was a bitter blow when Bellarabi suffered an injury to his right thigh in a sprint and had to be substituted early on. He was replaced by Wendell playing in the unusual position of left-winger with Moussa Diaby moving over to the right flank. Even without the threat from Bellarabi, the Werkself clearly remained on top: Nadiem Amiri tested the Lokomotive keeper Jan-Ole Sievers with a well-hit shot from distance (43') and the Bayer 04 defence was scarcely put under pressure thanks to a focused approach and confidence on the ball.
And the second half initially continued in the same vein with Schick having the first chance on 48 minutes. The team from Saxony did occasionally venture forward but failed to pose any real threat. It was different with the Werkself: Diaby made an excellent dribbling run before setting up Amiri who was again kept out by Sievers (61'). There was danger suddenly in the Werkself penalty area on 66 minutes but Kossounou cleared impressively first and then Retsos was in the right spot – and finally Jeremie Frimpong got his foot to the ball at the right moment.
This move was a wake-up call for Leipzig and the Saxons showed more endeavour to get forwards but the reformed Werkself back four stuck to their task and remain focused as they kept out the underdogs. Bayer 04 looked the more likely to score the third goal of the match and Luca Sirch made an impressive intervention to deny Daley Sinkgraven (77').
There was a brief worry for the Werkself late on. From the Leipzig corner, Sirch had a chance to score at the far post but Lukas Hradecky was on his toes for his first real test of the game and he was able to prevent the hosts scoring (84'). Instead, Demirbay ensured Bayer 04 went through to the next round: From a free kick just outside the box, the midfielder aimed for goal and surprised Sievers as the ball flew into the net for his brace and a 3-0 scoreline that was a fitting end to a comfortable cup performance (87').
Bayer 04 will discover their opponents in the second round of the cup on 5 September when the draw is made. The Werkself are next in action in the Bundesliga: On Saturday, 14 August (kick-off: 15.30 CEST), Gerardo Seoane has his first match in Germany's top flight with his team at Union Berlin.
FC Lokomotive Leipzig: Sievers - Berger, Sirch, Heynke, Mehmedovic (Eglseder 87') - Piplica, Abderrahmane (Ziane 76') - Rangelov (Voufack 82'), Pfeffer, Salewski (Ogbidi 82') - Nattermann
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong (Weiser 88’), Kossounou, Retsos, Sinkgraven (Baumgartlinger 88’) - Demirbay, Aránguiz - Bellarabi (Wendell 36'), Amiri (Palacios 73'), Diaby - Schick (Pohjanpalo 73')
Goals: 0-1 Demirbay (6' pen.), 0-2 Bellarabi (14’), 0-3 Demirbay (87’)
Booked: Pfeffer, Rangelov
Referee: Florian Lechner (Hornstorf)
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