Flying high in Europe, catching up in the league: Bayer Leverkusen has continued its impressive run and is targeting the Champions League places.
Xabi Alonso blew several goodbye kisses to the cheering Bayer Leverkusen fans, then the successful coach enjoyed the next big step on the way to the premier class with a satisfied smile on his face. In the style of a top team, Alonso’s title chasers continued their impressive run against RB Leipzig. Three days after jumping into the Europa League semi-finals, the mercilessly effective team beat the DFB Cup winners 2-0 (1-0) and carefully targeted the Champions League places.
“We’re doing great right now, I’m very proud of the team. We defended like lions as a team,” said Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah at “DAZN”: “We keep going and are not satisfied.”
Adam Hlozek (40′) and Nadiem Amiri (86′, penalty kick) scored the goals in front of 29,085 spectators for Leverkusen, who remained unbeaten in their eighth league game in a row without Florian Wirtz. Leipzig, who lost in their seventh away game at Bayer for the first time and ended the game with ten men after a yellow-red card against Dominik Szoboszlai (85th), are only four points away and slipped out of the premier class places after the 29th matchday. Bayer lurks immediately behind in sixth place.
“We didn’t play badly, but that doesn’t do us any good – we didn’t finish it consistently enough,” said Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs. This lack of consistency “costs us points”.
After reaching the first European Cup semi-final in 21 years on Thursday, Alonso made three changes – twice of them forced: The in-form Wirtz was absent late on Sunday afternoon due to gastrointestinal problems, as was Edmond Tapsoba, who had to sit out due to muscular problems.
Against feared opponents Leipzig, who had lost only two of 13 competitive games against the Rhinelanders before the duel, Leverkusen initially acted much more passively than during the week at Union Saint-Gilloise (4: 1). The early stages belonged to the guests: Timo Werner tested Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky for the first time (6th).
Leverkusen threw in unusual bad passes and technical errors in the game structure. Leipzig could not convert the ball gains into targeted attacks. Bayer usually let RB have the ball and lurked for a counterattack – but initially played the few switching actions too imprecisely.
Out of nowhere, Piero Hincapie (32′) hit the crossbar from around 30 meters for the best Bayer scene so far, Leverkusen was now more active and rewarded: Hlozek completed a counterattack after a sharp cross from Moussa Diaby.
Wirtz watched from the stands in heavy rain as Bayer managed the lead as the game went on. At the break, Rose had brought on Christopher Nkunku, who played the second game after tearing a muscle fiber, for Kevin Kampl and thus made an offensive substitution.
Nkunku (62nd) started the best phase in Leipzig with his graduation. The tired-looking Leverkusen limited themselves to defending and took the risk. Werner (66th) missed a huge chance against Hradecky. RB kept running – but was vulnerable to counterattacks. Szoboszlai brought Jeremie Frimpong down in such a Leverkusen attack and had to leave the field. Amiri converted from the penalty spot.