bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen go fourth after pegging back luckless Schalke

Bayer Leverkusen remain on course for a top-four finish after coming from behind to draw with a Schalke side now winless in an unwanted club record 13 Bundesliga matches.

Schalke 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 1-0 Caligiuri (pen. 51'), 1-1 Miranda (o.g. 81')

Schalke coach David Wagner threw a curveball by handing U19s midfielder Can Bozdogan a Bundesliga debut, and naming Ahmed Kutucu in the starting line-up for the first time this season after 21 substitute appearances. It was the latter who almost broke the deadlock inside three minutes, but he could not direct his finish on target after Lukas Hradecky had spilled a fierce long-range effort from US international Weston McKennie. Mitchell Weiser put in a superb recovering challenge to deny Kutucu another sight of the Leverkusen goal, before the visitors threatened through Lucas Alario, who sent a header over. The Argentine had a goal ruled out for offside late in the half, but not before Caligiuri had stung the palms of Hradecky.

Schalke's positive approach was rewarded early in the second period when Leverkusen defender Edmond Tapsoba was adjudged to have handled Jonjoe Kenny's cross, following a VAR review. Caligiuri stepped up to thunder the ensuing spot-kick high into the net, with Hradecky diving the wrong way. Alexander Nübel tipped over from Nadiem Amiri and Alario sent another heading agonisingly wide as Leverkusen upped the ante. Substitute Kevin Volland also tested Schalke's Bayern-bound Nübel, before Özan Kabak put body on the line with a goal-saving block in front of Alario. Bayer were eventually rewarded for their efforts when Barcelona loanee Juan Miranda put Amiri's cross into his own net ahead of Paulinho to secure a point that takes them a point above fifth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Match stats

  • Leverkusen have scored at least once in all 20 of their competitive matches in 2020, and 100 in 48 top-flight games under coach Peter Bosz at a clip of 2.1 every game.
  • Bayer are now unbeaten in their last six away games (four wins, two draws). Their last defeat on the road was the 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim in early February.
  • Caligiuri has converted 14 of his 16 penalty attempts in the Bundesliga.
  • Nübel made his 50th competitive appearance for Schalke.
  • With an average age of 23 years and six months, Schalke's starting line-up was the club's youngest since December 2016.
  • Kutucu made his first Bundesliga start, following 21 substitute appearances, while Jonas Hofmann made his Bundesliga debut from the bench.

Watch: Hradecky: "It wasn't our best game"

Line-ups

Schalke: Nübel - Kenny, Kabak, Oczipka (c), Miranda - McKennie - Caligiuri (Hofmann 88'), Boujellab (Mercan 89'), Bozdogan (Becker 69'), Schöpf - Kutucu (Gregoritsch 73')
Unused subs: Schubert, Langer, Thiaw
Out: Burgstaller (knee), Harit (knee), Mascarell (groin), Matondo (groin), Nastasic (muscular), Raman (knock), Sane (muscular), Serdar (knee), Stambouli (match fitness), Todibo (ankle)
Coach: David Wagner

Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser, S. Bender, Tapsoba, Wendell - Aranguiz (Baumgartlinger 85'), Demirbay (Paulinho 75') - Amiri (Sinkgraven 70'), Havertz (c) (Volland 70'), Diaby - Alario
Unused subs: Özcan, Tah, Dragovic, Wirtz, Stanilewicz
Out: Bellarabi (thigh), L. Bender (foot), Palacios (illness)
Coach: Peter Bosz

Watch: Kenny on Bozdogan: "You can see his quality"