Head coach Xabi Alonso made six changes from his starting line-up in the 2-0 defeat in Leipzig for the game against Club Brugge: Odilon Kossounou came in on the right side of defence for the suspended Piero Hincapie, Mitchel Bakker and Jeremie Frimpong replaced Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Daley Sinkgraven on the flanks. Exequiel Palacios started in place of Nadiem Amiri in holding midfield alongside Robert Andrich. Xabi Alonso opted to play Patrik Schick and Callum Hudson-Odoi up front with Adam Hlozek and Amine Adli dropping to the bench. Alonso stuck with his tried and tested 3-4-3 formation.
Lukas Hradecky and Co. needed to get a result to – with the help of Porto – finish above Atletico Madrid in third place and thereby progress to the Europa League. The Werkself started that mission with commitment. Andrich led the first attack in the opening minutes but an opposition defender was able to block the shot. Shortly after that, Frimpong just failed to connect with a cross from Hudson-Odoi. The visitors from Belgium mounted their first attack on ten minutes but failed to threaten the Werkself goal. The game settled down with neither side wanting to take any unnecessary risks.
The first clear-cut opportunity came after the half-hour mark for the hosts: Hudson-Odoi put Moussa Diaby through on the right but the visitors keeper Simon Mignolet was able to save a shot from a tight angle. It was end-to-end action after that: First, skipper Hradecky saved a dangerous effort from Club Brugge's Kamal Sowah and an immediate counter-attack saw Schick just fail to connect with a cross from Diaby (39'). In the first minute of added time, Frimpong had another shot but the Dutchman only hit the side netting. The half-time score at Leverkusen was 0-0 while Porto were 2-0 up at the break against Atlético Madrid.
There was one change for the Black and Reds the start of the second half with Kerem Demirbay coming on for Palacios. The opening minutes of the second 45 were intense with chances at both ends: Club Brugge's Casper Nielsen hit the bar and a follow-up shot from Eduard Sobol went wide of the Leverkusen net (46'). Hudson-Odoi then tried his luck for the Werkself but Mignolet was able to keep out his low shot to the bottom left corner (48). A corner from Demirbay on 54 minutes found Schick but the Belgian keeper was able to keep out the header from the Czech Republic player.
Both sides found it hard going in attack. Xabi Alonso reacted on 75 minutes by bringing on two new players: Amiri and Adli replaced Hudson-Odoi and Diaby. The visitors also made substitutions as the game progressed. The final stages of the match required full focus to ensure a clean sheets. As Porto were still 2-0 up on Atlético, the goalless draw was enough for the Werkself at that moment. In the final minutes of the match, Hradecky intercepted another cross from the visitors and Adli threatened the Belgian goal for the Black and Reds. Then came the final whistle – and the full house at the BayArena celebrated the deserved point and going through to the UEFA Europa League. Atlético Madrid did score late-on but the game ended with a 2-1 win for the Portuguese side. Porto finish top of the group ahead of Cub Brugge. Bayer 04 end the group stage in third place with Atlético Madrid fourth.
The Werkself are at home to league leaders Union Berlin on Sunday 6 November on Bundesliga matchday 13. The kick-off at the BayArena is at 15.30 CET. The Black and Reds are away to FC Köln three days later in the derby with the kick-off at 18.30 CET. In the final competitive match of the year, the Alonso team entertain VfB Stuttgart on Bundesliga matchday 15. That game at the BayArena is on Saturday 12 November with the kick off at 15.30 CET.
Bayer 04: Hradecky - Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba - Frimpong, Palacios (Demirbay 46'), Andrich, Bakker - Diaby (Adli 75'), Schick (Hlozek 89'), Hudson-Odoi (Amiri 75')
Club Brugge: Mignolet - Boyata, Mechele, Meijer - Buchanan, Vanaken, Sowah, Sobol (Larin 79') - Nielsen, Jutgla (Yaremchuk 87'), Lang (Skov Olsen 67')
Booked: Palacios, Andrich - Sobol, Boyata, Nielsen
Referee: Maurizio Mariani (Italy)
Attendance: 30,210 (sell-out) at the BayArena
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