Bayer Leverkusen locked horns with second placed Borussia Dortmund at the Bay Arena in the Bundesliga topspiel on Sunday. There was a massive thirteen points gap between these two sides despite being separated by only two places at the table, with both sides wanting a win to help further their causes of directly making next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The game started with full of high-octane pressing from both sets of players. Leverkusen had Chicharito back from injury but midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu was scratched just before kickoff. But the bright start got somewhat dampened when Stefan Kießling went limping off to get medical attention after taking a knock from a Mats Hummels challenge. Although he trotted back on to the field again but this incident foreshadowed the tight play of the match.
There were no real opportunities in the first half because both teams were very compact. Dortmund often dictated the flow of the game but they were unable to create any chances until the added time when a rebound of a blocked shot atop the area found teenaged American Christian Pulisic, who perfectly laid it off to Aubameyang, but the striker couldn’t convert the chance only managing to hit the sidenetting.
Substitutions started to show off at the start of the second half as Leverkusen replaced Kevin Kampl and Ömer Toprak with André Ramalho and Kyriakos Papadoupoulos and Marco Reus came on for Pulisic, who was given his first start for Dortmund. Toprak had suffered a knock in the first half, but after coming off re-inserted himself onto the pitch.
The second half was little different from the first with both teams allowing little space to one another, except for the fact that things began to heat up a bit. Karim Bellarabi received a yellow after clattering dangerously into the head of Sokratis and lashing out at the defender when he got in his face. The crowd began to whistle Sokratis for the rest of the game.
An innocuous challenge involving Kießling and Sven Bender in midfied and foul was rightly given to Dortmund. The free kick was taken quickly as Dortmund started a lighting counter attack, with Durm serving it up on a platter for Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang to make it 1:0. Leverkusen were livid with the referee, and some of their players had stopped running, feeling that they deserved the foul seconds earlier at the other end for a challenge on Kiessling.
Kießling lead the protest and Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt was sent to the stands by Referee Felix Zwayer. Referee Zwayer twice sent Kiessling to tell his coach that he must leave the touchline yet Schmidt refused to go there. And what happened next was extremely unbelievable, because of the stubborn behavior from the coach. Zwayer decided to abandon the match temporarily and went off to the dressing room with his assistants.
After a delay of about nine minutes, Schmidt finally accepted his touchline ban, the players from both clubs returned to the field and the game was allowed to continue. And Dortmund taken off the heat from the attack focused more on defense after that unprecedented break of play.
Leverkusen tried to focus onto the task in hand but couldn’t really got past the strong Dortmund defense and the black and yellows were quite comfortable in their attempt to our the narrow lead. Leverkusen had even more reason for grievance when Sokratis blocked a Chicharito shot with his arm but the referee decided not to give a penalty.
The frustration continued to build at the Bay Arena and it got the better of Chicharito in the 90th minute, he was given quite an amount of space within 10 yards from but he fired his shot wide. That was probably the best chance for Leverkusen and the Mexican could have converted it nine out of ten times.
Zwayer than brought the game to an end. Aubameyang’s goal got overshadowed by unprecedented scenes at the Bay Arena but nonetheless, the striker’s 21st goal saw Dortmund closing the gap from Bayern to eight points and extending their lead from the third spot to 14 points. Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund can now focus onto their important away leg fixture against FC Porto in the UEFA Europa League. As for Leverkusen, they will aim to regain some confidence when they too will face a Portuguese opposition Sporting CP at home on Thursday.
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