Bayer Leverkusen were held to a draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last 32 tie against Krasnodar, with the game ending goalless despite a host of chances for both sides.
Krasnodar 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
After a lively start to the game, Leverkusen had a first half-chance when Kevin Volland came sweeping forward on the counter-attack, but his pass for Julian Brandt was a little undercooked. The visitors saw far more of the ball in the opening 45 minutes but lacked cutting edge in attack, while an energetic Krasnodar were content to hit them on the break. Brazilian winger Wanderson tested Lukas Hradecky from distance before teeing up Kristoffer Olsson for the best chance of the half, but the Swede somehow failed to hit the target from close range and the sides went in goalless at the interval.
Krasnodar made a furious start to the second half, almost creating a chance from kick-off before Pereyra fired just wide. Leverkusen responded as Bellarabi whistled a half-volley inches wide of the post, and it was soon one-way traffic at the Krasnodar Stadium, with Volland, Leon Bailey and Brandt all going close. Hradecky stuck out his boot to block an effort from Viktor Claesson on 69 minutes, with the lively Ivan Ignatyev putting the rebound wide. As the game's intensity petered out Bayer looked more likely to snatch a winner, but when Lucas Alario finally found the back of the net the goal was correctly ruled out for handball. Die Werkself's focus will now switch to Sunday's Bundesliga clash with Fortuna Düsseldorf at the BayArena, where they will entertain Krasnodar in the last 32 second leg next Thursday.
Watch: "I have unfinished business in the Bundesliga" - Bosz
- Leverkusen are now unbeaten in their last six games against Russian clubs in Europe.
- Die Werkself have lost only two of their last 11 European away games (W4 D5).
- Leverkusen scored 10 goals in their three away games in the group stage.
- In the Bundesliga, Bayer have won more points on the road (17) than at home (16) this season.
- The Russian Premier League's second-placed side have lost five of their seven games against German opposition, their only victory coming against Borussia Dortmund in the 2015/16 Europa League group stage.
- Krasnodar left-back Ramirez made 23 Bundesliga 2 appearances for Düsseldorf and Nuremberg between 2013 and 2015.
Krasnodar: Kritsyuk - Petrov, Martynovich (c), Spajic, Stotski - Olsson (Suleymanov 70'), Kabore, Pereyra (Golubev 80') - Wanderson, Ignatyev, Claesson
Unused subs: Sinitsin, Fjoluson, Markov, Utkin, Chernikov
Out: Ramirez, Gazinsky (both suspended)
Coach: Oleg Fomenko
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender (Dragovic 83'), Wendell – Havertz, Aranguiz, Brandt – Bellarabi, Volland (c), Bailey (Alario 80')
Unused subs: Özcan, Paulinho, Baumgartlinger, Jedvaj, Kohr
Out: L. Bender (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (thigh)
Coach: Peter Bosz
As it happened!
A frustrating night for the Leverkusen frontmen as they were unable to find a way past Kritsyuk - but on the other hand Krasnodar had plenty of chances to put one past Hradecky. It'll all be decided at the BayArena next Thursday.
With surely the final opportunity of the game, Bellarabi is caught offside. Surely enough, the referee blows his whistle.
90' THREE MINUTES OF INJURY TIME
Come on then lads, let's have this goal you've been promising us all night...
88' DISALLOWED GOAL!
Brandt hooks a cross to the far post but Volland can't get any power on his header, and Kritsyuk scoops it up. A minute later Alario has the ball in the back of the net from a corner - but it's correctly ruled out for handball.
85' TIME RUNNING OUT
We've got five minutes of normal time plus stoppages to go... can Leverkusen get that all-important away goal?
83' BENDER OFF
Bender is hurt again, and he doesn't look happy as he limps off with the help of a Leverkusen physio, heading straight down the tunnel like Bailey. Dragovic comes on in his place.
79' YELLOW FOR SULEYMANOV, ALARIO ON
The Krasnodar sub goes down rather theatrically in the penalty area and gets a yellow card for his troubles. Alario replaces Leon Bailey.
74' FAIR PLAY
It's been a pretty clean game so far... Pereyra has just been shown the game's first yellow card for a challenge on Havertz.
69' DOUBLE CHANCE!
We haven't seen much from Krasnodar in a while, but they should really be ahead. Hradecky sticks out his boot to block Claesson's low attempt, and Ignatyev somehow puts the rebound wide! Great opportunity for the hosts.
66' JUST WIDE AGAIN!
If balls that flew a foot either side of the post counted as goals, Leverkusen would be about 5-0 up by now... Bellarabi is the latest man to go close with a left-footed drive, but it's just off target.
All of the action is now in the Krasnodar half, but Leverkusen are still waiting for that moment of magic in the final third. Bosz could be tempted to introduce Alario soon - the Argentine has four goals in five Europa League games this term.
58' AND NOW BRANDT!
Brandt picks up the ball 30 yards out and is given space to come forward and get a shot away - and it flies agonisingly wide of Kritsyuk's right-hand post. Bayer are knocking on the door.
56' VOLLAND! BAILEY!!
A powerful left-footed effort from Volland - captain tonight in the absence of Lars Bender - flies over the bar. A minute later, Bailey cuts inside onto his right and forces Kritsyuk into making an excellent one-handed save! Much better from Leverkusen.
53' LEVERKUSEN STEADY THE SHIP
The visitors are getting their feet on the ball again after that supersonic start to the half from Krasnodar, but they're being let down a bit by their control in and around the penalty area. The pitch, in their defence, is not of the highest quality.
Leverkusen respond as Bellarabi flicks the ball up on the edge of the area and rifles a half-volley inches wide of the post. We have picked up exactly where we left off in the first half.
47' FLYING START FROM KRASNODAR
An impressive start to the half from the hosts, as Pereyra jinks forward, plays a one-two and fires just wide.
Wow. Krasnodar get the second half underway and go full pelt at the Leverkusen goal, but a pass up the middle for Ignatyev is slightly overhit. Talk about setting the tone.
A thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes of football, even if we haven't had a goal yet. Leverkusen dominated possession (65%) but Krasnodar had the better chances - Peter Bosz's men will need a little more cutting edge after the break.
A low Bellarabi cross into the area causes havoc in the Krasnodar defence, but Kabore keeps his cool and gets the ball away before Havertz can intervene.
43' BENDER RECEIVING TREATMENT
The Leverkusen defender has gone down after being clipped by Ignatyev. He's now limping off the pitch - will he be able to carry on?
39' WHAT A MISS!
What was I saying about Krasnodar on the counter? The hosts play a long ball forward to Wanderson on the left, and the Brazilian does brilliantly, threading a low cross into the middle for Olsson - but somehow the Swede fails to hit the target from close range! Big let-off for Leverkusen.
38' LEVERKUSEN ON TOP
Leverkusen look much more comfortable on the ball than Krasnodar, but the Russians are dangerous on the counter-attack with the pace of Ignatyev and Wanderson. The visitors just need that little bit of magic to break the deadlock.
34' ARANGUIZ MAKES THE WRONG CHOICE
Leverkusen are really turning the screw now. Aranguiz finds himself in space on the right hand side of the area but goes for a cross rather than a shot, and there's nobody there to meet it. At the other end Wanderson fires wide.
Brandt tries to squeeze a pass through to Havertz in the area, but a Krasnodar defender comes flying in to make the tackle. The 19-year-old almost manages to hook it on from the floor, but Kritsyuk gathers.
30' BAILEY HAS A GO!
Kai Havertz sprays a lovely crossfield ball out left to Leon Bailey, who darts forward and unleashes with his right foot. It doesn't quite have the same power as his preferred left and Kritsyuk makes a fairly comfortable save.
24' BELLARABI OVER THE BAR - AND A GREAT SAVE!
Bellarabi plays a neat one-two with Brandt on the edge of the area but his shot is poor, flying high into the stands. Krasnodar then come sweeping up the pitch and Hradecky has to make a fine save to keep out Ignatyev's low effort. Leverkusen have completed 180-odd passes to just 70 for the hosts so far.
After a decent passage of play from the hosts, Wanderson tries his luck from the edge of the area, and it's an awkward one for Hradecky who is forced to parry the Brazilian's drive away. The opening goal really could come at either end, it's 50-50 for the time being.
12' END-TO-END STUFF!
What a shame! After Krasnodar fail to make the most of a counter, Leverkusen launch a counter-counter (if that exists), but Volland doesn't quite put enough on his pass for Brandt and the hosts get the danger clear. I smell a goal coming.
10' LEVERKUSEN IMPROVING
Nice work from Volland to nick the ball off Petrov on the byline, but the captain's cross is deflected out for a corner that comes to nothing. Leverkusen starting to slip through the gears here.
A first half-chance for the visitors as Leon Bailey carves himself out a yard of space on the left-hand side of the area and squares for Bellarabi, whose shot is blocked.
4' BENDER TO THE RESCUE
Home centre-forward Ignatyev looks to get away down the middle, but has the ball nicked off him by Sven Bender. Hradecky then almost plays Aranguiz into trouble with a dangerous ball out from the back, but the Chilean wins a free-kick. Peter Bosz's men under a little bit of pressure in these early exchanges - remember, Krasnodar have been preparing for this one ever since their last competitive outing in December!
2' FAST START!
A little bit of pinball on the edge of the Leverkusen area after good work from Stotski, but the ball eventually rolls its way through to Hradecky. There's been a pretty intense start to the game!
We're underway in Krasnodar.
TRIBUTE TO SALA
Before kick-off there will be a minute's silence in honour of former Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who tragically died in a plane crash en route to his new club Cardiff last month.
PLAYERS IN THE TUNNEL
It's almost time! If you stick the kettle on now you can probably get yourself a cuppa ready by kick-off.
BUNDESLIGA 5-1 KRASNODAR
Krasnodar have lost five of their six meetings with Bundesliga clubs since October 2014, going down twice to Wolfsburg (4-2, 5-1), once to Dortmund (2-1) and twice to Schalke (1-0, 2-0) in the Europa League group stage. Their only win came over BVB in November 2015 (1-0). Tonight's first leg with Leverkusen will be their first game against German opposition in the knockout stage.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Peter Bosz has opted for the same starting XI who made short work of Mainz in the Bundesliga last Friday.
THE TEAMS ARE IN!
Scroll up to see how they'll line up at the Stadium Krasnodar tonight.
90 MINUTES TO GO!
In just under an hour and a half, Krasnodar and Leverkusen will be kicking off in Russia. We'll have team news for you very shortly.
RAMPANT ON THE ROAD
As you may have spotted in our handy stat pack below, Leverkusen have only lost two of their last 10 European away games, going down 3-2 at Zürich in this season's group stage and 2-0 at Villarreal in the Europa League last 16 three years ago. Meanwhile Die Werkself have notched 10 goals in their three games on the road this season, with four players - Havertz, Bellarabi, Alario and Kohr - netting braces.
LEVERKUSEN'S ROAD TO THE LAST 32
Leverkusen only lost one game as they qualified as Group A winners, finishing three points clear of FC Zürich. With Heiko Herrlich at the helm, Die Werkself began their campaign with wins over Ludogorets and AEK Larnaca and never looked back, rounding things out with an emphatic 5-1 win over the Cypriot side in December.
MD1: Ludogorets 2-3 Leverkusen
MD2: Leverkusen 4-2 AEK Larnaca
MD3: Zürich 3-2 Leverkusen
MD4: Leverkusen 1-0 Zürich
MD5: Leverkusen 1-1 Ludogorets
MD6: AEK Larnaca 1-5 Leverkusen
BOSZ: 'WE CAN BEAT ANYONE'
Bosz also touched on his side's recent win over record champions Bayern, saying it should give his players a confidence boost against opponents both foreign and domestic.
"Bayern are a very good team and it's not easy to beat them," he explained. "The lads just did really well. That shows we can beat anyone, but only if we play well and work together. I always want to win every game! But there aren't just strong teams in the Bundesliga – Krasnodar are a great team too."
BAYER ON FIRE
Leverkusen are currently enjoying a great run in the Bundesliga, having claimed successive wins over Wolfsburg (3-0), Bayern Munich (3-1) and Mainz (5-1). That being said, Peter Bosz's side were stunned by second-tier Heidenheim in the DFB Cup last week, so they won't be taking anything for granted against a Krasnodar side who are second in the Russian Premier League.
"We respect Krasnodar," the Dutchman said in his pre-game presser. "They are second in their league and they picked up 12 points in their group, as did Sevilla. They've got good players and they are a good side, but then so are we. So I think it will be a great game."
<3 WELCOME <3
Good afternoon everybody! Love is in the air as we prepare for a dreamy double-header in the Europa League tonight, with Leverkusen taking on Krasnodar before Eintracht Frankfurt go up against Shakhtar Donetsk. Settle in as build up to the former with all the latest news from Russia before kick-off at 6.55pm CET. What better way to spend St Valentine's Day?