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30.11.2023Europa League

2-0 win at Häcken sends Werkself into Europa League last 16 as group winners

Bayer 04 are through to the UEFA Europa League last 16 as group winners thanks to a 2-0 victory away at Häcken – the team’s fifth win from as many games in Group H. Victor Boniface opened the scoring at the Ullevi in Gothenburg before Patrik Schick wrapped things up in the second half with his first goal of the season. Gustavo Puerta was handed his first start for Leverkusen, Noah Mbamba his Europa League debut and Ayman Aourir his senior bow.
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Head coach Xabi Alonso made eight changes to his team from the 3-0 win away at Werder Bremen at the weekend. Only Piero Hincapie, Robert Andrich and Boniface retained their places, with Puerta named in the starting XI for the first time. Both teams initially had to find their feet on the snow-covered pitch at the Ullevi, which was previously the venue for the 1958 World Cup semi-final and 1992 European Championship final – both games featuring Germany.

BONIFACE HEADS HOME

The first chance of the game fell to Bayer 04 and was duly dispatched as Nathan Tella played in Josip Stanisic, whose cross to the far post was met by Boniface to head in with only 14 minutes gone – much to the joy of the 900 travelling fans. The game settled a bit after that before Mikkel Rygaard fired over for the Swedish cup winners. Five minutes later, Matej Kovar made three notable stops to deny the hosts and keep the group leaders ahead at the break.

Torjubel nach dem 1:0 von Victor Boniface

TWO EUROPA LEAGUE DEBUTS – SCHICK MARKS RETURN

Mbamba was sent on for Boniface as play resumed, allowing both Puerta and Adam Hlozek to shift forward as the Belgian teenager went into holding midfield, with the snow continuing to fall in Gothenburg. There were few chances of note to begin, with Tella’s long-range effort going over. Shortly after the hour mark, Schick returned from his injury lay-off. However, it was Amine Adli who had the first good chance of the second half, but he was denied from close range by Häcken goalkeeper Peter Abrahamsson.

There was no mistake from Schick, though, as he coolly turned in Stanisic’s low cross to double the advantage and open his account for the season with 74 minutes gone. The Czech striker ran over to the dugout to celebrate with his teammates and coaching staff. In the closing stages, Aourir came on for his senior debut as Leverkusen saw out the result that secures them top spot in Group H and also direct qualification for the Europa League round of 16 with a game to spare.

Fans in Göteborg

DOUBLE HEADER to come AT THE BAYARENA

The Werkself’s next game sees Borussia Dortmund come to the BayArena on Sunday, 3 December (17:30 CET). Three days later, Paderborn are the visitors in the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday (18:00 CET). The week is rounded off with a trip to VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga on Sunday (15:30).

Match stats:

Häcken: Abrahamsson - Ishaq, Ousou, Hovland, Totland - Rygaard, Gustafson, Amane (Dahbo 68') - Chilufya (Sonko 68'), Hrstic (Youssef 80'), Layouni

Bayer 04: Kovar - Stanisic, Tapsoba, Tah (Kossounou 80'), Hincapie - Puerta (Aourir 88'), Andrich - Tella (Schick 63'), Hlozek (Hofmann 80'), Adli - Boniface (Mbamba 46')

Goals: 0-1 Boniface (14'), 0-2 Schick (74')

Yellow card: Boniface

Referee: Julian Weinberger (Austria)

Attendance: 11,234 at the Ullevi in Gothenburg

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