Furious opening, feeble end
The last top match of season 2013 / 2014 held a lot of promise in advance. On Saturday evening, the second positioned Borussia faced the fourth-ranked team from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. And the match was certainly no disappointment with four goals in the first, action-packed half in the sold-out Bayer-Arena. In the second half, both teams lowered their efforts resulting in a deserved 2-2 draw.
After the break-off from coach Sami Hyypiä, Bayer 04 fulfilled a successful turn and ended their negative streak from March just in time. With three matches left, Bayer was still in a good position to secure a champions league qualification place. A victory against Dortmund would put pressure on the direct competitor Schalke 04, which is currently ranked third with three points ahead. In addition, Wolfsburg and Mainz caught up on Saturday afternoon and were still in the race for Europe’s premier competition. No question that for Bayer’s interims coach Sascha Lewandowski anything except a victory would mean a setback. Compared to the 4-1 victory in Nuremberg last week, Lewandowski changed the squad on one position. For the suspended Donati (5th yellow card), Roberto Hilbert joined the starting formation.
After the strong performance against Mainz, coach Klopp reacted with two changes: Weidenfeller went back between the posts after curing his adductors injury and Großkreutz replaced the ailing Durm in the defence line. The key to success for coach Lewandowski was to disable his namesake in black and yellow who is stil striving for the top scorer title of the current season.
High level football with Bender and Kirch
In the first half, coach Lewandowski’s tactic proved to be successful. The polish striker (18 goals) remained harmless thanks to the partly doubled one-to-one defence by Toprak and Spahic. Both teams played with a high pace and early pressing. With fast ball capturing in a short distance to the opponents goal, the teams tried to create their chances. It was up to Leverkusen to get off to a better start. After a cross by Son, Kießling headed the ball on the bar. The rebound landed in front of Bender who could easily head in for the 1-0 lead (7.). The lead was well deserved, but as a consequence, our Borussia started to rock. First Mkhitaryan with two attempts (12., 13.). Then, it was the overwhelming Marco Reus who was initiating the equaliser: His free kick from the right side flew hard and precisely into the box. Reserve Oliver Kirch extended the ball with his head and the leather fell unsaveable in the far corner for the 1-1 draw (29.).
But this was by far not the last highlight in the first heat which was an absolutely entertaining one. The offensive around Son, Castro, Brandt and Kießling on the one and Jojic, Reus and Mkhitaryan on the other side ensured scenes every passing minute. The next goal was then scored by the home team with an incredible good attack. Kießling with the ball in the midfield passed into the depth to Son who forwarded to Brandt on the right wing. With overview and feeling, the 17 year old Brandt crossed the ball to the far post where Castro headed in against the movement direction of goalie Weidenfeller for the 2-1 lead (35.). A couple of minutes later, Jojic with a high cross from the right wing into the box, in the centre, defender Hilbert used his hand to defend the ball – clear penalty decision. Marco remained cool against the penalty expert Leno and finished off with an easy ball in the right corner (39.). Right after, the German national with the chance for the 3-2 halftime lead, but free in front of Leno he missed to score the golden opportunity (40.).
Whoever hoped that the second heat would continue like the first ended was not to be disappointed. Right away, both teams continued with the same pace and it was up to Bayer to have the first promising opportunity. Boenisch with a flat cross from the left side that Kießling barely missed from good position (46.). This was however the first and so far only countable effort. Quite suddenly, the game began to slow down. Additionally, several small fouls stopped the flow of play with both Lewandowski and Spahic seeing a yellow card (48., 52.). The Leverkusen squad then stood extremely deep, closing the clear space for Borussias’ attacks for the cost of their own attack play.
Nearly ten minutes did pass before the audience could enjoy a next chance. The first was cleared by Sokratis against Kießling (60.) and the header of the blonde striker two minutes later missed the goal (62.). The best opportunity in the second half delivered Son: From the left wing the South Korean made his way in the centre hitting the side netting with his shot (68.). The Borussia offensive remained harmless, Reus and Co. seemed to be signed out of the match. No surprise that Bayer had the next opportunity to score the 3-2 lead. Castro with a flat cross to Brandt inside the box, Brandts lop free in front of Weidenfeller was brilliantly saved with an up shooting arm from our goalie (72.). Finally a life sign of our Borussia: The nice free kick from Reus above a crowd of players in the box could be saved by Leno (78.). The chance for a lucky punch in the last minute had Boenisch after receiving a Son free kick, but the defender missed the goal from a sharp angle (90. +2).
Thereby, the match ended with a fair share of points. Dortmund made a big step forward in securing the runner-up position and made a good impression before the big season end with the national cup final in Berlin. Leverkusen remained on the 4th place with the door wide open to the champions league qualification places. For the second last league match, Borussia will play against Hoffenheim in the Westfalenstadium on Saturday, 3rd of May 2014.
Bayer 04: Leno – Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Boenisch – L. Bender, Can – Brandt (81. Öztunali), Castro (81. Rolfes), Son – Kießling (84. Derdiyok)
BVB: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Hummels, Sokratis, Großkreutz – Kirch, Sahin – Jojic (82. Hofmann), Reus, Mkhitaryan (75. Aubameyang) – Lewandowski (90. Schieber)
Goals: 0:1 Lars Bender (7.), 1:1 Kirch (29.), 1:2 Castro (35.), 2:2 Reus (39.)
Referee: Günter Perl (Pullach)
Yellow Cards: Lewandowski, Spahic