Bayer Leverkusen's European push hit a bump while Werder Bremen ended their seven-game losing run as the spoils were shared on Saturday.
The home side were looking to stem their slide down the table towards the end of the season while Leverkusen were in town to keep their push for Europe on course. It was the visitors in control early on with Kerem Demirbay shooting over in the opening minutes, before Leon Bailey saw his shot blocked from close range, having been found by Patrik Schick. Bremen responded well, with Niclas Füllkrug heading over - but it was Hannes Wolf's side who were having the most joy going forward. Bailey forced a good save from Jiri Pavlenka at his near post before Florian Wirtz was denied a goal to celebrate his new long-term contract until 2026, signed earlier this week. The 18-year-old tapped home Karim Bellarabi's cross, but was offside when the pass was played. Leverkusen continued to pile on the pressure, with Schick coming close just before half-time as he flicked Bailey's cross wide of the near post.
Demarai Gray came on for Bailey at the break with the Jamaican unable to overcome a knock sustained in the first half. He was joined on the left by Wendell as Leverkusen tried to pick up where they left off at the end of the first half. It was a slow start from them, though, with Füllkrug having the first chance of the period with a header wide. Leverkusen were in command of possession but were struggling to create chances in front of goal, whereas Bremen grew in confidence as the half wore on, and pushed in search of a winner. Josh Sargent miscued a shot from close range before Christian Groß had an effort blocked in front of goal. Pavlenka then came to the rescue at the other end to keep Wendell out with the substitute firing on target from eight yards out. Eren Dinkci almost turned a cross home at the back post moments after coming off the bench, but his game ended with a red card after a late foul on Nadiem Amiri. Ultimately the spoils were shared in a goalless draw, with both sides looking nervously over their shoulders at opposite ends of the table.
- Bremen's seven-game losing run came to an end with the draw. Eight games would have been a record for any team in the Bundesliga this season.
- Bremen have converted a league-high 72 percent of their clear-cut chances in 2020/21, but are among the seven lowest scorers in the division (34 goals).
- Only relegated Schalke (nine) and 16th-placed Cologne (11) have collected fewer points than Bremen (14) in home matches over the course of the campaign.
- Leverkusen have netted just three times in nine away matches in 2021.
- It's now just one win in their last nine away matches for Bayer.
Watch: Hradecky reflects on "mediocre" season
Bremen: Pavlenka - Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander (c), Augustinsson -, Eggestein, Groß (Möhwald 83'), Bittencourt (Rashica 57') - Sargent (Dinkci 84'), Selke, Füllkrug (Osako 57')
Unused subs: Zetterer, Agu, Schmid, Erras, Bargfrede
Out: Friedl (pelvis), Mbom (knee), Plogmann (knee), Toprak (calf), Woltemade (knee)
Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Tah (c), Dragovic, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven (Wendell 46') - Palacios (Amiri 81'), Demirbay (S. Bender 74') - Bellarabi (Diaby 62'), Wirtz, Bailey (Gray 46') - Schick
Unused subs: Grill, Aranguiz, Weiser, Frimpong
Out: Alario (thigh), Arias (ankle), Baumgartlinger (knee), L. Bender (knee), Fosu-Mensah (knee)
Coach: Hannes Wolf
Watch: Kohfeldt: "We're more experienced than we'd like in relegation battle"