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17.02.2024Bundesliga

Werkself clear Heidenheim hurdle with 2-1 win

Bayer 04 extended their unbeaten run this season to a German record-equalling 32 competitive matches with a 2-1 win away at Heidenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Jeremie Frimpong put Leverkusen ahead in first-half added time before Amine Adli put away a Florian Wirtz pass to double the advantage. Tim Kleindienst got one back for the hosts, but the Werkself held on to keep clear at the top of the table.
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Head coach Xabi Alonso made two changes to his team that started last week’s 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich. Frimpong and Patrik Schick were restored to the side in place of Edmond Tapsoba and Nathan Tella. Africa Cup of Nations winner Odilon Kossounou was among the subs for the first time this year, while Piero Hincapie made his 100th appearance for Bayer 04.

Leverkusen had the first attempt of the game at the Voith-Arena as Wirtz tested Kevin Müller before the visitors began to dominate play. Frimpong came close not long after but narrowly missed an Alejandro Grimaldo cross from the left.

Frimpong earns lead

The hosts were quick to close down space but had trouble picking up Wirtz, who dribbled past three red shirts on the touchline before seeing his attempted cutback intercepted. Wirtz then played in Schick, but he was crowded out by two Heidenheim defenders as he tried to burst into the penalty area. Kleindienst had the promoted side’s first shot of the afternoon after 36 minutes. With the game looking like being goalless at the break, Frimpong then popped up at the first post two minutes into added time to turn in Adli’s cross for the lead and his seventh goal of the campaign.

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The Werkself continued on the front foot after the restart. Frimpong was again busy in attack and smashed an effort just over the bar from 20 yards. It was past the hour mark when Lukas Hradecky was called into action to deny Nikola Dovedan. Frimpong then came even closer to a second but flashed his shot only inches wide of the far post on the angle. Heidenheim started to find their groove and Hradecky was again forced to save from Benedikt Gimber. Borja Iglesias came on for Schick, but once more it was Frimpong involved up front. This time the Dutchman put a Grimaldo delivery into the stands.

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Wirtz and Adli combine

Wirtz than rattled the Heidenheim crossbar with a thunderous effort after a one-two with Iglesias. But the second goal did finally come on 81 minutes when Wirtz slipped through Adli, who rounded Müller to make it 2-0. It wasn’t over there, though, as Kleindienst got one back with a header three minutes before the end. However, the Werkself saw out the game to move eight points clear at the top, at least overnight, and make it 32 matches unbeaten in 2023/24.

Mainz on Friday

Bayer 04 are next in action on Friday, 23 February when Mainz visit the BayArena in the Bundesliga.

Match stats:

Heidenheim: Müller – Traoré, Mainka, Gimber (Pieringer 82'), Föhrenbach – Maloney, Schöppner (Sessa 63') – Dinkci (Busch 76'), Beck (Dovedan 46'), Beste (Pick 76') – Kleindienst

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Stanisic, Tah, Hincapie – Frimpong (Tapsoba 89'), Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo – Adli (Tella 89'), Schick (Iglesias 74'), Wirtz (Hofmann 89')

Goals: 0-1 Frimpong (45'+2), 0-2 Adli (81'), 1-2 Kleindienst (87')

Referee: Harm Osmers (Hanover)

Yellow cards: Föhrenbach, Gimber – Andrich

Attendance: 15,000 at the Voith-Arena (sold out)

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