Fürth - Bayer 04 Leverkusen missed the chance to reclaim second place in the Bundesliga standings after being held to a goalless draw at cellar-dwelling Greuther Fürth.
Chances hard to come by
Chances were at a premium, but when they did come, Champions League hopefuls Leverkusen found home goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl in determined mood in Fürth's first game under Ludwig Preis.
The 42-year-old interim coach made three changes to the side that started last week's defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf, fielding the club's youngest ever Bundesliga side with an average age of 22.7, and it told. Much credit had to go to Fürth for the way they tried to get forward in the opening stages, with Johannes Geis calling Leverkusen stopper Bernd Leno into action after 13 minutes.
A low-key first half sprung to life when Gonzalo Castro raced through on goal, but the five-time Germany international was unable to hit the target from 15 yards out. Fürth gave as good as they got, though, as Mergim Mavraj saw his near-post header cleared off the line by Castro.
Leverkusen up the ante
Leverkusen duly took notice and came out firing towards the end of the half. Stefan Kießling was denied a 16th goal of the season by Hesl, with Andre Schürrle missing on the rebound before twice failing to get the better of the 27-year-old Fürth no1, who did excpetionally well to keep out Daniel Carvajal's curling drive on the stroke of half time.
The visitors quickly settled into their rhythm after the restart, but it was Clover Leaves substitute Ilir Hasemi, who forged the next chance, testing Leno from the edge of the box. Bayer, however, did not appear too concerned, with centre-back Ömer Toprak coming close after a trademark passing move.
Clear-cut chances were now popping up at both ends as both sides pushed hard for a winner. Felix Klaus hit the side netting for the hosts, before team-mate Thomas Pledl saw his effort easily collected by Leno. Philipp Wollscheid followed suit at the other end, heading straight at Hesl.
Leverkusen turned the screw in the dying stages, but found Hesl in inspired form between the Fürth sticks, denying Schürrle at full-stretch and showing great reactions to foil Castro as Fürth collected only their fourth point of the season at the Trolli Arena.
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