Home » Europa League Round of 16: Late draw – Leverkusen remains undefeated in the Caucasus

Europa League Round of 16: Late draw – Leverkusen remains undefeated in the Caucasus

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Europa League Round of 16: Late draw – Leverkusen remains undefeated in the Caucasus

Sport Europa League round of 16

Late draw – Leverkusen remains undefeated in the Caucasus

As of: 11:00 p.m. | Reading time: 4 minutes

The hosts tried to surprise Leverkusen with a powerful and physical style of play


For a long time, Bayer Leverkusen delivered their worst performance of the season in the Europa League round of 16. In the end, the Bundesliga leaders managed to secure a draw in the first leg. SC Freiburg wins 1-0 against West Ham.

The jokers Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick saved Bayer Leverkusen from their first defeat in the 35th competitive game of the season in the wet and cold cauldron of Baku. In the 2:2 (0:2) in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Europa League at Karabakh Agdam in Azerbaijan, the national player and the Czech Republic saved the draw after by far the worst half of the season and thus a good starting position for the second leg on Thursday in Leverkusen .

Coach Xabi Alonso rested numerous stars after the long journey to the Caucasus in view of the strain in the coming weeks. Granit Xhaka, Wirtz and Jeremie Frimpong, among others, sat on the bench at the start. Agdam took advantage of this through Yassine Benzia (26th) and Juninho (45th + 2). Wirtz, who had been substituted twelve minutes earlier, shortened the score with Leverkusen’s 100th competitive goal of the season (70th) – and Patrik Schick (90th + 2) then equalized.

The old but atmospheric arena in Baku, once called the Josef Stalin Stadium and then the Vladimir Lenin Stadium, now bears the name of Tofiq Bahramov. So from the Azerbaijani linesman who saw the ball behind the line at the 1966 World Cup final and thus made the “Wembley goal” possible for England against Germany. About half an hour before kick-off it started to rain heavily. Combined with the strong, cold wind, the conditions were uncomfortable.

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The hosts tried to surprise the Leverkusen team with a powerful and physical style of play. That was successful and the Werkself couldn’t get into the game for a long time. Alonso obviously didn’t like that. The Spaniard gesticulated unusually wildly on the sidelines.

Substitute Schick ensures the draw

But things didn’t get better. Quite the opposite. First Matej Kovar, who, as in every group game, represented captain Lukas Hradecky in goal, saved a shot from Juninho with one hand (24th), then Marko Jankovic hit the inside post (25th) and again a few seconds later it happened , when Benzia shot the ball under the crossbar from ten meters. In view of 6:0 shots on goal, the lead for Agdam was deserved and logical. And in stoppage time in the first half, Bayer was able to counterattack when Juninho ran past Jonathan Tah from the halfway line and played past Kovar.

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Alonso brought on Frimpong at the break, and when things only improved to a limited extent, he also brought on Xhaka and Wirtz in the 58th minute. Now things got better and ex-Leverkusen player Andrej Lunew had to parry a dangerous shot against Edmond Tapsoba for the first time (62′). And when Wirtz intercepted a back pass from Abdellah Zoubir and lobbed the ball over Lunew, Leverkusen was back in the game. Schick, who was also a substitute, ultimately ensured the draw.

Joker Gregoritsch makes Freiburg dream

Joker Michael Gregoritsch makes SC Freiburg dream of reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League for the first time. After two unsuccessful attempts, coach Christian Streich’s team defeated English first division football team West Ham United 1-0 (0-0). Gregoritsch rewarded Freiburg for a courageous performance on Thursday evening with the winning goal (81st minute).

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Both teams had already met in the group phase. West Ham won 2-1 in Freiburg in October and 2-0 at home in mid-December. The second leg in London is scheduled for March 14th. In between, the sports club, which has not won in six league games, will be visiting VfL Bochum on Sunday (3:30 p.m./DAZN).

Wide awake and consistently defending forward, the home team hardly allowed anything to happen in the first half. Defender Matthias Ginter had explicitly warned about the enthusiasm of the seventh-placed team in the Premier League. “This is a top team, especially offensively. It will be important that we defend well and compactly,” said the national player.

But for long stretches there was no sign of key player Lucas Paquetá or the dangerous Jarrod Bowen, who scored a hat-trick in United’s last home game. Freiburg controlled the encounter and had almost 80 percent possession of the ball in the opening quarter of an hour – the result alone left a lot to be desired.

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Nevertheless: Strengthened by the 2-2 draw in the duel with FC Bayern, the Breisgau team acted confidently. Lucas Höler’s finish defused Lukasz Fabianski – the best chance of the game after half an hour. Shortly before, West Ham coach David Moyes had turned away from the game in annoyance after his team’s umpteenth failed build-up.

The 60-year-old’s expression continued to darken even after the game restarted. Because the sports club continued to apply pressure and achieved their first dangerous goal thanks to an acrobatic side kick from Roland Sallai (48′). But the guests also became more and more determined. Former Stuttgart defender Konstantinos Mavropanos headed just wide after SC keeper Noah Atubolu misjudged a corner (53′). Paquetá’s header was also inaccurate (62′), and Bowen was denied by Atubolu (65′).

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Streich reacted and brought in Gregoritsch, the decisive goalscorer of the playoff second leg against RC Lens. That paid off. The Austrian was on the pitch for just eleven minutes before he struck again. In the end, Freiburg had to tremble – but according to the video footage, the referee did not give the guests a hand penalty.

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