Patrik Schick scored his 17th Bundesliga goal of the campaign before Grischa Prömel's brace and Jonathan Tah's late equaliser as Bayer Leverkusen and fellow top-four hopefuls Union Berlin played out a 2-2 draw at the Bay Arena on Saturday.
Fourth met sixth to kick-off the new year for Leverkusen and Union at the BayArena, with both starting the Rückrunde with a place in Europe at the top of their respective agendas. A frenetic opening unfolded and the hosts went close three times in quick succession around the 10-minute mark as Andreas Luthe denied both Schick and Florian Wirtz before Tah headed narrowly wide from a corner. Die Werkself finally took the lead that their dominance deserved as Schick pounced on Luthe's save at the feet of Moussa Diaby and rifled home shortly before the break. Typical of Leverkusen in recent weeks, however, they found themselves level on the stroke of half time as Lukas Hradecky made two stunning stops to first deny Christopher Trimmel and then Kevin Behrens, before Prömel bundled home.
Niko Gießelmann - replaced by Bastian Oczipka - was a first-half casualty for Union and Urs Fischer made two more changes at the break, with Andreas Voglsammer and Levin Öztunali introduced. It did just the trick and Die Eisernen were in front five minutes later as Prömel tapped home Max Kruse's shot-cum-cross for the former's second of the game. Given that they had been second-best for 45 minutes, it was quite the turnaround from Union as Leverkusen once again surrendered an advantage. Kruse later went close to adding to the scoreline when his fierce effort beat Hradecky but not the crossbar and was bumped over by the woodwork. Moments later, Leverkusen were level thanks to Tah's thumping header from Karim Bellarabi's excellent cross. There was almost more late drama as Oczipka struck the post in stoppage time, but both sides ultimately had to settle for a point.
- Schick scored his 17th Bundesliga goal of the campaign in his 15th appearance. Only Robert Lewandowski has scored more (20).
- No Leverkusen player has ever scored more goals than Schick's 17 after 18 games of a Bundesliga season.
- Schick has been involved in 10 of Leverkusen's last 14 goals (nine goals, one assist) across the previous five Bundesliga matchdays.
- Captain Trimmel made his 250th competitive appearance for Union.
- Robin Knoche has started all of Union's 52 Bundesliga matches since he signed for the club from Wolfsburg in the lead up to the 2020/21 campaign.
- Only leaders Bayern Munich have lost fewer matches (three) than Union (four) so far this term.
Watch: Tah: "It was important not to lose"
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) – Frimpong (Alario 83'), Tah, Hincapie, Bakker – Andrich, Demirbay (Bellarabi 77') - Diaby, Wirtz, Paulinho (Adli 77') – Schick
Unused subs: Lunev, Retsos, Sinkgraven, Fosu-Mensah, Gedikli, Fofana
Out: Amiri (not included), Aranguiz (calf), Baumgartlinger (knee), Kossounou (Africa Cup of Nations), Tapsoba (Africa Cup of Nations)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
Union: Luthe – Jaeckel, Knoche, Friedrich – Trimmel (c) (Ryerson 77'), Khedira, Prömel (Möhwald 71'), Gießelmann (Oczipka 26') – Haraguchi (Öztunali 46') – Behrens (Voglsammer 46'), Kruse
Unused subs: Rönnow, Ujah, Endo, Baumgartl
Out: Awoniyi (Africa Cup of Nations), Becker (not included), Wszolek (not included)
Coach: Urs Fischer
2022 summer friendlies overview
Find out what the Bundesliga clubs are getting up to in pre-season ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
Why the 2022/23 title race is set to be a thriller
Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen all look set to mount a challenge to dethrone Bayern Munich.
Can Mane help Bayern break the goals record?
The record champions could be in line to set a new best mark this term thanks to their Senegalese superstar.