Leverkusen - Sunday’s clash between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund had it all. Twists, turns, agony and ecstasy, with only the final result not to the home side’s liking as they relinquished second spot to the reigning champions.
Flicking through a dictionary of football terms, there was something to cover every letter of the alphabet at the BayArena. Yellow cards, penalties, goals, emotions, mistakes, fouls. Even the letter ‘Q’ was well represented, given the quality on display - but try telling that to the Leverkusen players.
“It’s incredibly frustrating for us,” said . “We were the better team for more than an hour and had chances to score maybe five goals. If we'd played more intelligently, we could have got at least a draw out of it. We were on the crest of a wave and then that stupid thing happens.”
The stupid thing in question was the stray backpass from Philipp Wollscheid that led to Robert Lewandowski’s winning goal, breaking Bayer hearts after they had valiantly fought their way back from two goals down. Few will remember exactly how Dortmund took all three points, however, only that they did.
“We’ve lost second place, but it’s not the end of the world. We still have enormous potential,” added Schürrle, trying to look on the bright side. So too was sporting director Rudi Voller. “It’s a shame,” said the former Germany striker. "We played better than in many of the games we’ve won this season. Unfortunately, we’re left empty-handed, but if we carry on playing like this, we’re going to win plenty of matches over the coming months. We’re not where we are now in the table by chance. We belong there."
Arguably they belong a notch higher. Leverusen have demonstrated they are a match for anybody this season and remain the only side to have beaten FC Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga so far.
Frankfurt up next
For now, Bayer need to dust themselves off and begin focusing on Saturday's Rhineland derby against Borussia Mönchengladbach, where a defeat could even see them lose third spot to Eintracht Frankfurt.
"Frankfurt are strong and we mustn’t underestimate them," confirmed Bayer captain Simon Rolfes. “They deserve to be up there. It’s going to be an exciting season yet.”
Tobias Gonscherowski reporting from Leverkusen