Bayer 04 coach Peter Bosz again rang the changes in the third double fixture week in succession with five changes to the side that started in the last game against Schalke 04. The Werkself coach put Niklas Lomb in goal for his second appearance in the Europa League after his debut against Rosenborg in 2012. Tin Jedvaj, Edmond Tapsoba, Wendell and Karim Bellarabi came into the team in place of Lars Bender, Jonathan Tah, Florian Wirtz and Moussa Diaby. Leverkusen were missing six players with Paulinho, Santiago Arias, Exequiel Palacios, Charles Aránguiz out injured and Kerem Demirbay sidelined with a coronavirus infection and Sven Bender out with a knee injury. Lukas Hradecky, Florian Wirtz and Lucas Alario were not in the squad. There were also three U19 players on the bench in Emrehan Gedikli, Cem Tuna Türkmen and Samed Onur.
After a minute's silence for Paolo Rossi, the Italian World Cup winner and top scorer in 1982 who passed away at the age of 64, the clash to win the group at the BayArena started. Daley Sinkgraven, this time playing in midfield, had the first chance on goal after good work from Patrik Schick and Nadiem Amiri but the Dutchman's shot was blocked and turned away for a corner (4'). A low shot from Amiri from a free kick flashed past the target at the near post (7'). The third attempt ended in the back of the net: Sinkgraven picked out Karim Bellarabi on the right wing with an excellent pass and he whipped in a cross that Schick missed but Leon Bailey was right behind him took the ball away to make it 1-0 (8'). The fourth involvement in goal for the in-form Jamaican in the last four Europa League games.
Shortly after that, Petar Musa tested Lomb from the edge of the box (13'). Bailey was then in touching distance of a brace when he popped up in front of the Slavia Prague goal from a Schick pass but the Czech keeper Ondrej Kolar made the save (16'). – The first 20 minutes clearly belong to the agile hosts. When Sinkgraven put away a rebound off the keeper from a Bellarabi shot to double the lead, the assistant referee raised his flag – offside, probably an error (26').
The Werkself continued to move the ball well and clearly were enjoying the game. As just after the half-hour mark: An Amiri cross was headed against the inside of the post by Schick but Bailey was on hand to thrash the rebound under the bar from close range to make it 2-0 (32'). That was goal number 19 for Leverkusen in the competition and no other German team has scored as many goals in the group stage of the Europa League before. Schick was looking for perfection in the penalty area and he got knotted up with his dribble rather than shooting from a promising position. As a rocket from Amiri was blocked, a good chance for the third goal went begging (35'). Bayer 04 went into half-time with a well earned 2-0 lead.
Peter Bosz made two changes for the start of the second 45: Moussa Diaby and Emrehan Gedikli replaced Bailey and Schick. Slavia Prague were now much livelier and looked to press forward. But the goals kept coming for the Werkself: Diaby received a great pass from Sinkgraven before nutmegging Kolar to make it 3-0 (59'). To Bosz that was a sign to make two more changes: Lars Bender and debutant Samed Onur replaced Baumgartlinger and Sinkgraven (60'). Diaby almost scored a second but David Zima blocked him (66'). Then came the fifth and final substitution for Bayer 04: Cem Türkmen came on for Amiri (74'). There were now three home-grown players from the U19s on the pitch.
One of the youngsters almost scored but Gedikli took too much time getting control of the ball after a Bellarabi solo run and Diaby cross and thereby missed the chance to make it 4-0 (76’). The game was now like a relaxed exhibition display for the Werkself who continued to dominate the game. Lomb did have the opportunity to shine when he turned away a free kick for a corner (87'). Diaby smacked the ball against the bar (89') before Bellarabi took advantage of Türkmen winning the ball and a Diaby cross to make it 4-0 (90+1'). The final whistle soon followed and the Werkself were clear group winners.
Bayer 04 are back in league action against TSG Hoffenheim on Bundesliga matchday 11 on Sunday 13 December. The kick-off at the BayArena is at 18.00 CET.
Bayer 04: Lomb – Jedvaj, Dragovic, Tapsoba, Wendell – Amiri (Türkmen 74'), Baumgartlinger (L. Bender 60'), Sinkgraven (Onur 60') – Bellarabi, Schick (Gedikli 46’), Bailey (Diaby 46’)
Slavia Prague: Kolar – Masopust, Zima, Boril, Dorley – Sevcik (Stanciu 19’), Traoré (Karafiat 82’)– Sima (Jurasek 82’), Lingr, Olayinka – Musa (Tecl 53’)
Goals: 1-0 Bailey (8’), 2-0 Bailey (32’), 3-0 Diaby (59’), 4-0 Bellarabi (90+1’)
Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos (Greece)
Booked: Schick, Onur
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