Home » After a 0-2 deficit: Leverkusen saves the series and draws against Qarabağ

After a 0-2 deficit: Leverkusen saves the series and draws against Qarabağ

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After a 0-2 deficit: Leverkusen saves the series and draws against Qarabağ

As of: March 7, 2024 11:41 p.m

Thanks to a goal from Patrik Schick in stoppage time, Bayer Leverkusen averted defeat in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 against Qarabağ FK.

Despite being 2-0 down at one point, Leverkusen drew 2-2 with Qarabağ on Thursday evening. Especially in the first half, Leverkusen just ran after their opponents. “We will analyze the mistakes of the first half. I saw a good reaction in the second half,” said coach Xabi Alonso after the game. Thanks to a significant improvement in performance in the second half, Bayer fought for a draw and thus a good starting position for the second leg in a week.

The goals for Qarabağ were scored by Yassine Benzia (26th) and Juninho (45th+2), while Florian Wirtz (70th) and Patrik Schick (90+2) scored for Leverkusen.

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Trio around Wirtz initially on the bench

Xabi Alonso continued his usual rotation in Azerbaijan – the three top performers Granit Xhaka, Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong initially sat on the bench. “After the result you can say that maybe it was a mistake. But always the same formation is not possible, we need all the players,” said Alonso.

Exequiel Palacios was in the starting lineup for the first time since his injury at the end of January. Winter newcomer Borja Iglesias, who was still playing for Betis Sevilla in the Europa League in the group phase, also started from the start.

Half time one: Only Qarabag is playing

Only the host played in the first half, Qarabağ created their first big chance after just under 25 minutes. The eye-catching Juninho was denied by Leverkusen goalkeeper Matěj Kovář (24′). Just a few seconds later, the outsider made the next exclamation point. After a corner, the ball landed at Marko Jankovic, who hit the post from 25 meters.

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And again it only took a few seconds until the next chance. This time Juninho took advantage of a mistake by Tah in the build-up of the game, moved away on the left wing and played the ball into the backcourt. Benzia was waiting there ready to shoot and scored for a deserved 1-0 lead (26th). Leverkusen had nothing to counter the goal and had to watch as Qarabağ created one chance after another. First Leandro Andrade got caught in a promising position by Kossounou (30th), then the Portuguese missed with a free-standing header (36th).

Leverkusen were offensively blank, Juninho made it 2-0

Leverkusen lacked any idea, the offensive triangle around Borja Iglesias, Adam Hložek and Amine Adli did not take place at all in the first 45 minutes. On the other hand, Juninho capped off an outstanding first half. After winning the ball and passing it from Patrick Andrade, Juninho won the running duel against Tah, tipped the ball past Kovář with his sole in a technically sophisticated manner and slotted in to make the score 2-0 at halftime (45th + 2).

After 55 minutes, Xabi Alonso substituted Wirtz and Xhaka for the inconspicuous Palacios and Hložek. Shortly afterwards, Leverkusen had their first big chance. Edmond Tapsoba failed from almost 18 meters to Andrey Lunev (63′).

Stephan Küssen, Sportschau, March 7th, 2024 10:27 p.m

Wirtz comes in and scores

Qarabağ continued to defend in a disciplined manner until the 70th minute without becoming any more dangerous. Then Abdellah Zoubir, trying to pass to his own keeper, played the ball into Wirtz’s feet. The 20-year-old remained ice cold in front of the goal and reduced the score to 1:2 with a lob (70′).

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A disjointed final phase developed in which Leverkusen’s Kovář saved Bayer from 1:3. Juninho won the ball against Xhaka in his own half and ran alone towards the Werkself goalkeeper. Kovář went all the way and parried the shot to the near corner (83′).

In stoppage time, Leverkusen put their opponents under pressure for a longer period of time for the first time in the game. After a cross from Robert Andrich, substitute Patrik Schick headed in to make it 2-2 (90th + 2). Leverkusen now had the momentum on their side – Frimpong missed by a few centimeters with his last header of the game. Leverkusen remained undefeated in the 35th competitive game in a row.

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