"We can be very happy and not just because we are top of the table for the moment," said Kerem Demirbay after the final whistle. "We were again incredibly strong mentally and all of us can be proud of ourselves. We are a unit and it's all coming together. My goal was a bit lucky but I also hope the DFL will award the goal to me."
Bayer 04 coach Gerardo Seoane fielded the same starting line-up as in last week's victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach. There were changes on the bench: Central defender Piero Hincapie was in the squad for the first time as was the French winger signed this week Amine Adli. The two long-term injured players Edmond Tapsoba and Timothy Fosu-Mensah as well as the recovering Lucas Alario and Karim Bellarabi plus Julian Baumgartlinger (knee injury) were absent from the squad.
Seoane gave his players a clear message ahead of the clash with FCA who Bayer 04 have not lost to in 20 Bundesliga meetings: "Our target must be, individually and as a team, to be similarly aggressive as against Gladbach." The visitors in all white made a flying start: Exequiel Palacios passed the ball to Patrik Schick, who was being marked by Felix Uduokhai and Iago on the edge of the box. Schick poked the ball and Iago was clearly irritated as he turned the ball over keeper Rafal Gikiewicz into his own net – 1-0 for Bayer 04 (3').
It was a perfect start for the Werkself but luck was on their side shortly after that when a challenge from Mitchel Bakker on Niederlechner in the penalty area was not penalised by the referee Benjamin Brand (8'). Schick got on the end of a cross from Jeremie Frimpong but he was put off as he shot (12’). An Augsburg foot got in the way of a Kerem Demirbay shot from a pass from the dead-ball line by Moussa Diaby (13'). The following quickly taken corner saw the ball end up in the back of the FCA net again: Demirbay fired in a shot from the edge of the box, Niederlechner got his head to the ball deflecting it past Gikiewicz into the net at the near post to make it 2-0 on 14 minutes. The strike was also deemed to be an own goal but that was of little concern to Bayer 04.
Leverkusen continued to press, Paulinho pinched the ball from Niklas Dorsch but his curler to the far post flew just wide of the upright (22'). The shot by the Brazilian from a great through ball from Diaby was turned away for a corner by Gikiewicz (27'). The hosts did not know what hit them as the Werkself were happy to pass and confident on the ball and were clearly on top in the opening half an hour. But then FCA came back in the game in a curious way: Bakker and Lukas Hradecky hesitated in the six-yard box and Niederlechner nipped in to poke the ball over the line (30'). Instead of a possible 3-0 scoreline, it was suddenly only 2-1.
Bayer 04 remained undaunted and continued to press forward. A Paulinho shot from a quickly taken free kick was turned away for a corner by Iago (36'). At the other end, Hradecky pulled off a great save to deny Ruben Vargas with a shot from 13 yards out after Leverkusen believed the ball was out of play (39’). The visitors then celebrated going 3-1 up after Diaby turned the ball into the net from Schick pass (43'). However, the goal was ruled out after the intervention of VAR because Charles Aránguiz had handled the ball in the build-up. Bayer 04 went into half-time with a 2-1 lead.
Augsburg started the second half in a positive manner and endeavoured to press. A whipped-in cross from André Hahn was met by Daniel Caligiuri but he failed to connect properly (54'). At the other end, Bayer 04 endeavoured to make fast attacks and missed a very opportune moment to make it 3-1: Diaby picked out Schick but his effort went over Gikiewicz but also over the bar (58'). FCA remained dangerous but a volley from Niederlechner from a Hahn cross went well wide (61'). Gerardo Seoane then made a double substitution bringing on Florian Wirtz and Robert Andrich in place of Paulinho and Palacios (65').
The game then developed into a hard-fought encounter with many close challenges on the pitch. Augsburg were increasingly in the game and Bayer 04 were pushed back. However, the Werkself stuck to their task and were decisive in counter-attacks: Wirtz carried the ball half the length of the pitch before passing to Schick who stumbled but was able to hold off Robert Gumny before hitting the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1 – a brilliant goal from the Czech (75'). And then Leverkusen wrapped it up: A Demirbay pass found Wirtz who first rounded Gikiewicz before putting the ball into the empty net from a difficult and tight angle (81'). Bayer 04 made another three substitutions: First, Nadiem Amiri came on for Demirbay, then Daley Sinkgraven and Amine Adli replaced Frimpong and Bakker on the flanks (84').
Hradecky was called into action to keep out Mads Pedersen (87'). Schick missed the chance to score his second goal as he hammered the ball against the bar (88'). Immediately after that, debutant Adli was very unlucky as he hit the post (89'). Frimpong then picked up an injury and had to hobble off the pitch just before the final whistle – when the Werkself were able to celebrate another convincing win.
After the international break, Bayer 04 are in action again in the Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund visit the BayArena on Saturday, 11 September (kick-off: 15.30 CEST).
FC Augsburg: Gikiewicz – Gumny (Framberger 84'), Oxford, Uduokhai, Iago – Caligiuri (Jensen 67’), Dorsch, Gruezo (Pedersen 76’), Vargas – Hahn (Sarenren Bazee 84’), Niederlechner (Gregoritsch 76’)
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker (Sinkgraven 84’) – Aránguiz, Palacios (Andrich 65’) – Diaby (Adli 84’), Demirbay (Amiri 81’), Paulinho (Wirtz 65’) – Schick
Goals: 0-1 Iago o.g. (3’). 0-2 Niederlechner o.g. (14’), 1-2 Niederlechner (30’), 1-3 Schick (75’), 1-4 Wirtz (81’)
Referee: Brand (Unterspiesheim)
The quarter-final of the DFB-Pokal will be a special highlight for the Bayer 04 Women. The team will play at the BayArena for only the second time since 2009. Bayer04.de has collected reaction to the game to be played on Tuesday 5 March (kick-off: 18.30 CET). Director of professional teams Thomas Eichin, who is also responsible for women's football at the club, explains the background to the decision and the Women's team head coach Robert de Pauw and the captain Elisa Senß talk about the anticipation of the players ahead of the clash at the BayArena. Winter signing Borja Iglesias also shares his views. The striker was a big supporter of women's football following the kissing scandal involving the former Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales last summer. Borja also attended the last Bayer 04 Women's home game against TSG Hoffenheim.Show more
Odilon Kossounou certainly deserved this reception: At a Bayer 04 staff meeting, Fernando Carro, CEO, and head coach Xabi Alonso presented the Africa Cup of Nations winner with a special memento of his great achievement on behalf of all members of staff. The Werkself player won AFCON with Ivory Coast in the middle of February in his own country.Show more
The special edition Bayer Sports Family shirt pays homage to sport in the city of Leverkusen. Ahead of the forthcoming Bayer Sports Family matchday at the Werkself Bundesliga home game against Mainz 05 (Friday, 23 February, 20.30 CET), Bayer 04 Club members can secure this limited edition shirt now at the Bayer 04 fan shops and the online club shop.Show more
The Bayer 04 eSports team this week played matchdays 30 to 32 in the 2023/24 VBL Club Championship by WOW in the business end of the season. The #B04eSports team picked up six important points in the games against Schalke 04, VfL Wolfsburg and direct rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Black and Reds remain seventh in the table in the North West Division and are still in with a chance of qualifying for the finals of the German Club Championship via the play-offs.Show more
There's big interest in Bayer 04 in Mexico, not least because of the involvement of former Werkself player Chicharito. The #Bayer04MexicoTour in summer 2022 also made a vital contribution to the popularity of the current Bundesliga leaders in the North American country. Since this week, the connection between Bayer 04 and football-mad Mexico has been enriched by one more aspect: Mexican national team coach Jaime Lozano and his coaching team have used their European tour to exchange experiences with those responsible at the works club, among other things.Show more