Hakan Calhanoglu gave the hosts the lead with a fine strike, but Roel Brouwers netted the equaliser, and though both sides had chances to take maximum points, they ended the day the way they had started it: locked together on the same number of points, with Bayer a place ahead in the standings.
Gladbach immediately settled into their customary style of play, engineering their first counter-attack opportunity early on. Patrick Herrmann had scored five in his last eight games against Bayer, but he couldn’t add to his tally as he dragged his effort wide of the target with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Leverkusen, on the other hand, made their first opportunity count, as Calhanoglu showed once again how deadly he can be from distance. Collecting Stefan Kießlng's knockdown, he was given too much time and freedom to run at the Gladbach defence and he took advantage, lifting a shot over Yann Sommer into the far corner.
Brouwers bites back
Both sides were showing an admirable willingness to attack, although Leverkusen posed the greater threat, with Karim Bellarabi's shot grazing the outside of the right-hand post. Gladbach were always dangerous, though, and they were level with a simply worked goal, as Brouwers met a corner from the right with a sweet volley into the corner. The Dutch veteran now has 13 Bundesliga goals, and four against Leverkusen.
Max Kruse had a good early chance in the second half, but like Herrmann he was unable to find the corner and the ball rolled wide. In contrast to the first 45 minutes, though, it was Gladbach that were now enjoying a prolonged spell of pressure, and Brouwers should have had a second. Instead of producing the composure he showed earlier, however, he managed to sky the ball over the crossbar from point-blank range.
The game was finely poised going into the final half-hour with both sides showing why they are not only forces to be reckoned with in the Bundesliga but also in Europe, and though there may have been fewer clear-cut chances, that was more due to defensive improvements than any dwindling desire to attack.
Attacking football is in the DNA of these two sides, which is why not one seat was being vacated early inside the BayArena. Brouwers earned his stripes again in blocking Julian Brandt's route to goal, before Alvaro Dominguez rifled in a shot to sting Leno's palms. The tempo remained high, as did the excitement, but neither side could find a breakthrough as the spoils were shared.
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