Bayer Leverkusen’s winless run continued on Saturday afternoon as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen.
It was Bremen who opened the scoring against the run of play early on in the second half, as Omer Toprak got on the end of a set piece to poke home from close range. Leverkusen were able to tie things up about 15 minutes later when Patrik Schick’s shot somehow deflected in, but the home side could not find a winning goal in the final few moments, which meant they had to settle for just a point.
Story of the match
The game quickly went how many expected it to, as Leverkusen kept the ball while Bremen sat back deep and tried to absorb pressure.
An audacious volley from Julian Baumgartlinger seemed like it had a chance of flying into the top corner, but it ultimately went a few yards wide.
The first half was quite uneventful, but that doesn’t mean it was too boring. It was tight and tense, with both sides worried about being the first to make a mistake. As a result, there were few opportunities for either.
That would change after the break as Bremen broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half. A superb free kick was whipped into the area by Ludwig Augustinsson which picked out the run of Omer Toprak. The former Leverkusen man made no mistake with the finish, flicking the ball past Lukas Hradecky and into the back of the net.
Leverkusen equalized in the 68th minute through very fortunate circumstances. It’s hard to tell exactly how the ball got across the line, as a shot from Patrik Schick bounced off a bunch of bodies before hitting Augustinsson and eventually trickling in. There was also the fact that the goal was initially called off due to a handball on Lucas Alario, but a lengthy VAR review reversed the decision.
The home pushed up nearly everyone as they searched for a late winner. They thought they should’ve been given a penalty when a corner hit the arm of Jean Manuel-Mbom, but the referee decided otherwise following another VAR review.
In the end, Leverkusen just couldn’t create that final chance to go in front, so they had to settle for a draw.
The right result
All things considered, both sides getting a point from this game was fair.
Bremen will obviously be the happier of the two considering they were underdogs playing on the road. It was a solid showing from them, to their credit, as they were strong at the back throughout the contest.
They didn’t make any mistakes, and the Green-Whites would’ve gotten a clean sheet if not for the deflected goal they conceded. They even stole a goal from a set piece which was impressive. If Bremen can keep playing like this, then they’ll have no reason to worry about relegation.
For Leverkusen, this is yet another disappointing result. After a strong start to the season, fans thought the team were genuine title contenders. However, their recent form has already killed off those dreams, as they now only have one point from their last three games.
Die Werkself just never got going, and they looked like a shell of themselves on the afternoon. Lacking any real threat in the final third, they resorted to lumping in aimless crosses in the last few minutes, which obviously didn’t work. Leverkusen need to turn things around quickly if they want to finish in the top part of the table, as the teams below them are starting to catch up.
Man of the match - Omer Toprak
The former Leverkusen man was able to haunt his old side on both ends of the pitch.
Leading the Bremen backline, Omer Toprak commanded the penalty area. After an admittedly shaky start, he didn’t let anything get past him or his teammates. He headed away crosses and cleared away attempted passes all afternoon without fault.
Toprak even got on the scoresheet, redirecting a cross into the back of the net to give his side the lead at the start of the 2nd half. It was a composed finish from someone who doesn’t score a lot, but the goal was crucial for Bremen as it helped them snatch a point on the road.
He’s been cursed by injuries, but performances like this show just how vital Toprak can be for the Green-Whites when he’s fully fit.