Head coach Gerardo Seoane rang the changes after the 7-1 home victory over SpVgg Greuther Fürth with eight new players in his starting line-up: Lukas Hradecky, who has not missed a single minutes this season, was rested. His place in goal was taken by Andrey Lunev – it was the debut for the 30-year-old in a black and red shirt. In addition, Panagiotis Retsos, Odilon Kossounou, Daley Sinkgraven, Charles Aránguiz, Karim Bellarabi, Nadiem Amiri, Paulinho and Lucas Alario started in place of Jeremie Frimpong, Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie, Robert Andrich, Moussa Diaby, Amine Adli (all on the bench), Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick (both not in the squad).
The Werkself were the winners of Group G before the game. "We want to approach this sixth match seriously," emphasised Seoane, "and continue our great previous performances in this competition." And that's exactly what his team did: Bayer 04 made a good start to the game and twice had the opportunity to take the lead in the opening 15 minutes against hosts defending deep but Amiri twice missed the target (12'/15'). Retsos went one better shortly after that: From a back-heel pass from Bellarabi, the Greek defender lobbed the ball over the Ferencváros keeper Denes Dibusz (24'). However, the Black and Reds were unable to celebrate as the goal was ruled out – Bellarabi caught the foot of Miha Blazic before making his pass.
The visitors continued to set the pace but failed to turn their commitment into goals. There was a lack of bright ideas in front of the opposition goal and the final pass did not get through. The two sides went into half-time with the score at 0-0 as Ferencváros did not have any chances at the other end.
The ball was in the back of the Ferencváros net for the second time on the night a few minutes after the restart: Paulinho played a great one-two with Alario on the edge of the box and then put the ball past Dibusz from eleven yards out (56'). However, the Brazilian was just offside when the ball was played and the goal was therefore ruled out.
At the other end, Aissa Laidouni hit a shot from distance that went just over the bar (61'). The Seoane team then continued to press but were frustrated in their next effort on goal by the opposition keeper: Paulinho brilliantly broke down the left wing and picked out Amiri who shot on the turn but Dibusz was in the right place to make the save (69').
Bayer 04 deserved to be ahead at this point but then the hosts struck out of the blue: Olexandr Zubkov crossed from the left wing to the near post where Laidouni escaped the attention of his markers to head home the opener (82'). After the goal, the Black and Reds again pressed forward in the closing stages but had no luck in front of goal – substitute Jonathan Tah had the best chance to level from a corner but his header lacked force (90').
The Werkself thereby lost their first away game in the current season. This defeat did not really affect Leverkusen as they were already winners of Group G before the game. Karim Bellarabi and Co. return to Bundesliga action on Sunday (12 December, kick-off: 17.30 CET) with an away game at Eintracht Frankfurt. Bayer 04 are back in the Europa League in March for the Round of 16 tie.
Ferencváros: Dibusz – Botka, Blazic, Mmaee, Kovacevic – Laidouni, Zachariassen, Loncar (Vecsei 81’) – Zubkov (Cabraja 88’), Uzuni, Nguen (Mmaee 46’)
Bayer 04: Lunev – Retsos, Kossounou, Tapsoba (Tah 46’), Sinkgraven – Palacios (Andrich 63’), Aránguiz (Frimpong 71’) – Bellarabi (Diaby 71’), Amiri, Paulinho – Alario (Alario 81’)
Goals: 1-0 Laidouni (82’)
Booked: Laidouni, Blazic, Cabraja – Bellarabi, Kossounou
Referee: Kirill Levnikov (Russia)
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