Werder Bremen were without key duo Serge Gnabry and captain Clemens Fritz. But they didn’t let that stop them go four games unbeaten in the Bundesliga – even if it meant spoiling the party for the new Leverkusen coach.Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Werder Bremen
(Volland 7′ – Pizarro 79′)
Claudio Pizarro has made a habit of this over the years.
Straight off the bench and straight into the action with 13 minutes to play. Fast forward 90 seconds and the ball is in the net, and Pizarro is celebrating what could be a crucial goal in Bremen’s pursuit of safety. And it was a strike, in all it’s awkward glory, that looked unlikely for long periods of the night.
But that only tells half the story of an absorbing game that had a sting in its tail for new Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut. Roger Schmidt’s relacement had his side organised at the back and looking slick going forward. There was a renewed belief about them and, for 79 minutes, they could just about claim to be the better side.
But Kevin Volland’s opener seemed like a long time before the chaos of the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time. Pizarro’s equalizer buoyed Bremen for the final ten minutes and punished Leverkusen for failing to put the game to bed. In truth, they failed to create many clear cut chances to double their lead, only Karim Bellarabi and Wendell forced Wiedwald into important saves.
So there was a certain inevitability about Pizarro’s strike – but worse was to come for Leverkusen. Wendell saw red for a second yellow card, and that seemed to unbalance Leverkusen’s defence for the final minutes of stoppage time.
As the game entered the fifth of five additional minutes, Leverkusen won a penalty. Toprak stepped up for the last kick of the game, but a pathetic attempt was saved comfortably by Wiedwald, who was mobbed by his teammates as the full time whistle blew.
It was a crushing blow for Korkut and Leverkusen, who were left distraught as they contemplated yet another missed opportunity. But when the dust settles on this result, Leverkusen may be able to see the positives. They were the better team for most of the game and created the better chances, and looked impressive at times as they went forward. Korku has plenty to work with and may feel this isn’t the worst result – despite the circumstances – against a rejuvenated Bremen.
For the visitors, they celebrated the draw like a victory. They are now four games unbeaten and are slowly climbing towards safety and, perhaps most satisfying, proved they can get results with talisman Serge Gnabry and captain Clemens Fritz.
As it happened: