Bayer Leverkusen got in touch with the Champions League places in the Bundesliga three days after reaching the semi-finals in the Europa League. The Werkself, who were penultimate when coach Xabi Alonso took office in October, defeated RB Leipzig 2-0 (1-0) on Sunday and moved up to four points behind the Saxons after the 13th competitive game without defeat.
The previous fourth in the table, Leipzig, slipped out of the Champions League ranks after their eighth defeat of the season and is now in fifth place, directly ahead of Bayer. Adam Hlozek (40th minute) and Nadiem Amiri with a penalty kick (86th) scored Leverkusen’s goals. The Saxons didn’t reward themselves for their clear superiority in the second half and lost Dominik Szoboszlai before the penalty with a yellow-red card.
At Bayer, three of the best players of the past few weeks were not even in the squad. According to the club, national player Florian Wirtz was absent due to gastrointestinal problems and sat in the stands with a blue and white baseball cap. Defender Edmond Tapsoba was rested as a precaution because of a muscular problem, while Argentinian world champion Exquiel Palacios was not fit in time.
Leipzig, who were missing national player David Raum due to a yellow card suspension, were initially the fresher and more active team. Timo Werner already had the lead from a tight angle in the 6th minute, but shot Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky in the chest. Leverkusen only came dangerously close to the Leipzig goal in the 21st. After a cross from Piero Hincapié, Jeremie Frimpong ran in energetically, took measure – and missed the ball.
Leipzig with more ball possession
Otherwise, Leverkusen, who in the last few weeks have been using their offensive game more from a compact defense, were even lower this time. But then they suddenly got the perfect counterattack chance when Mitchel Bakker, Kerem Demirbay and Moussa Diaby ran three against one after a corner kick from Leipzig and frittered the ball away (28′). Goalkeeper Janis Blaswich underestimated Piero Hincapié’s long-range shot from 30 meters and the ball smacked the bar (32′).
Leipzig had more than 60 percent possession of the ball in the first round and nominally significantly more shots on goal. But Leverkusen had the better chances and the Rhinelanders then used the fourth when Hlozek slotted in a sharp cross from Diaby from ten meters out for his fifth goal of the season.
Leipzig coach Marco Rose brought in Christopher Nkunku at the break. Germany’s “Footballer of the Year” made a 16-minute comeback last week after tearing the lateral ligament. Leipzig’s game only got a little more purposeful, but at least there were chances now. Especially through Nkunku, whose Jonathan Tah hit the ball away from his feet at the last second after a save from Hradecky (66′). Shortly thereafter, Hradecky parried Willi Orban’s header after a corner kick (68′). Frimpong missed the decision (83′) in a Leverkusen counterattack, which Amiri then took care of from the penalty spot.