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16.09.2021Europa League

Werkself beat Ferencváros 2-1 in Europa League opener

Bayer 04 made a successful start to the Europa League group stage. The Werkself secured a 2-1 win against the Hungarian champions Ferencváros. Exequiel Palacios (37') and Florian Wirtz (69') turned the game round after an early goal scored by Ryan Mmaee (8').
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The Werkself head coach Gerardo Seoane made four changes to the side that lost 4-3 in the thriller against Borussia Dortmund: Daley Sinkgraven came in at left-back in place of Mitchel Bakker, Exequiel Palacios replaced Robert Andrich in central midfield and Lucas Alario was preferred to Patrik Schick up front - and Amine Adli played on the left instead of Paulinho with the new signing celebrating his first start for the Black and Reds.

false start: early blow for the Werkself

The Hungarian team made the better start: Tokmac Chol Nguen was put through down the left flank and he squared the ball into the penalty box to Ryan Mmaee who was left with a tap-in to give Ferencváros the lead on eight minutes – far too easy from a Werkself perspective. Shortly after that, Henry Wingo had the chance to double the lead for the team from Budapest but he was thwarted by Lukas Hradecky (11').

The Werkself needed time to get into the game and managed that after the first quarter of an hour. Kerem Demirbay had the first shot on goal from distance (15'), a sharp shot from Palacios was deflected away by Eldar Civic (17'), and Adli was also out of luck from 20 yards out (24'). The first real danger came after 25 minutes when Demirbay hit a great free kick from 25 yards out over the wall towards the top left corner forcing Ferencváros keeper Denes Dibusz to make an impressive save.

great move brings leveller: Palacios nets first goal

Bayer 04 worked hard after the false start and increasingly came into the game with the first really well played attack ending in a chance for Sinkgraven but his effort was blocked (28') – shortly after that Alario provided a technical highlight. Our central striker received the ball from Demirbay with his back to goal, teed it up and then turned and hit it on the volley. A move that definitely deserved a goal – but Dibusz had something against that as he pulled off a brilliant save (31').

The Werkself were rewarded for the improvement in performance shortly after that – and with a really well-executed goal. Moussa Diaby powered down the right bringing Jeremie Frimpong with him. The right back made his way to the dead ball line and cut the ball behind the defence. Diaby left it for Palacios who hit a perfect shot into the top left corner via the inside of the post – the first goal for the Argentinian in a Werkself shirt (37'). Here's to many more, Pala!

two goals, neither counts

That goal marked the start of an eventful closing stages of the first half with both teams finding the back of the net – but neither of them counted: A finish from Balint Vecsei from a corner was chalked off after the intervention VAR as the ball bounced off the arm of the Ferencváros player beforehand (39'), and the Werkself strike from Jonathan Tah was also ruled out as the central defender lent on his opponent with his headed goal (45+ 1'). In the final minutes before the half-time whistle, Bayer 04 had an excellent opportunity through Diaby from a great one-two with Alario but the impressive Dibusz kept him out (45') as he did with a volley from Demirbay (45+2').

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Bayer 04 were unchanged for the start of the second half but then made the first substitution after a few minutes: The goalscorer Palacios went off due to a knock and he was replaced by Charles Aránguiz. As in the first half, Ferencváros had the first shot on goal through Olexandr Zubkov (52'), and then it was almost all Bayer 04: A great move ended with Alario shooting over the top (58'), Dibusz parried an Adli header (59') and another Alario shot (63') and a curler from Diaby was deflected just wide (65').

Hincapie makes debut: Wirtz puts Werkself in Front

In the middle of this period of pressure, Seoane made three changes, which included bringing on Piero Hincapie for his first appearance for the Werkself (66'). Our new signing played on the left in place of the injured Sinkgraven who suffered a slight problem after a great intervention to deny Mmaee (64').

It was another substitute who played a crucial role in the goal to put the Werkself in the league: Karim Bellarabi put the Ferencváros defence under pressure with some aggressive pressing and forced them into making a crucial error. Frimpong intercepted the misplaced pass and he played a great diagonal ball to Florian Wirtz in the penalty area. The youngster was unmarked in front of Dibusz and he made no mistake in front of the North Stand as he scored a well-deserved goal to make it 2-1 (69').

no chances for ferencvaros to level: Werkself secure victory

On the back of the lead, the Werkself now controlled the game without being able to build up the same continuous pressure as before. The best chance to make it 3-1 fell to the substitute Nadiem Amiri who hit the ball over the target when he was unmarked (86'), and Schick was kept out by Dibusz with a shot from a narrow angle (90+2'). Bayer 04 were very solid working against the ball and Ferencváros hardly came into the final third – never mind producing a chance to equalise.

The Werkself earned a deserved three points. The next Europa League game is on 30 September away to Celtic, who lost 4-3 away to Real Betis in the parallel game. Before that, Bayer 04 have a tricky task in the Bundesliga: The Werkself are away to VfB Stuttgart on Sunday, 19 September (kick-off: 15.30 CEST).

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky - Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Sinkgraven (Hincapie 66') - Palacios (Aránguiz 49'), Demirbay - Diaby, Wirtz (Amiri 81'), Adli (Bellarabi 67’) - Alario (Schick 66’)

Ferencváros: Dibusz - Wingo, S. Mmaee, Blazic, Civic - Vecsei (Uzuni 66’), Loncar (Gavric 76’) - Zachariassen, Nguen, Zubkov (Cabraja 86’) - R. Mmaee

Goals: 0-1 R. Mmaee (8’), 1-1 Palacios (37’), 2-1 Wirtz (69’)

Booked: Demirbay

Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)

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