Yet it wasn’t just about sport on Sunday but also Bayer 04’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The Werkself played in a limited-edition cream-white kit, with a large part of the proceeds from sales of the 1,930 shirts going to local support for Ukraine in Leverkusen. A Ukrainian flag was also displayed under the roof of the BayArena, which was illuminated in the national colours of blue and yellow after the final whistle. You can find out more about the club’s measures to help HERE.
Coming back to the football itself, Gerardo Seoane made four changes to the Bayer 04 side that started Thursday’s 3-2 defeat at Atalanta in the UEFA Europa League last 16 first leg. Edmond Tapsoba, Mitchel Bakker, Charles Aranguiz and Amine Adli all dropped to the bench, with Odilon Kossounou, Piero Hincapie, Kerem Demirbay and Paulinho coming into a 4-2-3-1 formation.
A sold-out BayArena holding 22,658 fans urged on the Werkself looking to control the game. The visitors from Cologne were eager to press high in the Leverkusen half, creating an intense match-up. Paulinho could have had the first dangerous chance in the 11th minute but failed to strike at the right moment from inside the box. The first injury-enforced substitution followed shortly after when Frimpong was unable to continue after he was caught on the ankle by Florian Kainz. He was replaced on 13 minutes by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
The Werkself increased their pressure over the course of the first half and the best chance again fell to Paulinho after a lovely through ball from Wirtz. However, the Brazilian was denied by the foot of Köln goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe. Kainz had the first opportunity of note for the visitors but Hradecky made a regulation save on 20 minutes. Bayer 04 would then be forced into two more unplanned changes. Wirtz had to be stretchered off the field after a hard tackle from Luca Kilian and was taken to hospital. The 18-year-old was replaced by Adli with 28 just minutes on the clock.
Moussa Diaby hadn’t lost his concentration, though, and latched onto a short back pass to Schwäbe, rounded the ‘keeper but was unable to hit the target from a tight angle. A Demirbay free-kick landed on the roof of the net before the referee signalled for half-time after five minutes of added time with the game goalless.
The Werkself emerged for the second half with a third new face as Tapsoba replaced Kossounou, who had complained of muscular problems and remained in the changing room. Ten minutes passed before Köln’s top scorer Anthony Modeste had his first chance of the game but headed over the bar.
Schindler would make no mistake shortly after his introduction, however, when he volleyed home fellow substitute Dejan Ljubicic’s cross on 67 minutes. Sardar Azmoun had two opportunities to draw the Werkself level but the Iranian just missed a low cross from Fosu-Mensah and then failed to get a telling touch against Schwäbe as the visitors held on and Bayer 04 were beaten 1-0.
It’s just 04 days between the derby and the Werkself’s next game as Atalanta come to the BayArena for the second leg of the Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday, 17 March (18:45 CET). Seoane’s side are then away at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga on Sunday before the international break.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Frimpong (Fosu-Mensah 13'), Tah, Kossounou (Tapsoba 46'), Hincapie – Palacios (Aranguiz 64'), Demirbay – Diaby, Wirtz (Adli 28'), Paulinho (Azmoun 64') – Alario
Köln: Schwäbe – Schmitz, Hübers, Kilian, Hector – Özcan, Skhiri (Schindler 64') – Duda (Ljubicic 64'), Kainz (Lemperle 87') – Andersson (Thielmann 77'), Modeste
Goal: 0-1 Schindler (67')
Yellow cards: Palacios, Demirbay – Skhiri, Schmitz
Referee: Stegemann (Niederkassel)
Attendance: 22,658 (sold out)
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