Ja-Cheol Koo’s hat-trick was not enough for FC Augsburg as Bayer 04 Leverkusen fought back from 3-0 down to salvage a 3-3 draw in a thriller at the WWK Arena.
FC Augsburg 3-3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Red cards: Gouweleeuw (90+3’)
The visitors had come into the game on the back of three straight losses, and their confidence was further damaged when Ja-Cheol Koo’s swept in a rebound to put Augsburg in front. Without the class of star striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez or the presence of veteran Stefan Kießling, Bayer struggled to threaten the home defence and they were undone again just before the break.
Under pressure from Alfred Finnbogason, Bernd Leno spilled the ball and after the Iceland international hit the post, Koo followed up to score his second with a calm finish. Already facing a mountain to climb, Leverkusen’s day went from bad to worse when Koo – against perfectly placed – half-volleyed into the top corner for his first ever Bundesliga treble ten minutes into the second half.
All looked rosy for the hosts, but Leverkusen rallied to produce a comeback that seemed almost impossible on the evidence of the first hour. Karim Bellarabi pulled one back with a low shot from an angle and Augsburg skipper Paul Verhaegh put through his own net with ten minutes left.
In the dying seconds, Leverkusen were denied an equaliser when Jeffrey Gouweleeuw prevented a goal with his hand. He was given a straight red, allowing Hakan Calhanoglu to roll in the resulting penalty and rescue an unlikely point for the UEFA Champions League aspirants.
Man of the match
His three goals may only have amounted to a point, but Koo was irrepressible for the home side, showing a brilliant knack of being in the right place at the right time and taking all three of his goals with impressive coolness.
After losing at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in midweek, this was a missed opportunity for Augsburg to put some distance between themselves and the relegation places. As things stand, they are now just two points above the play-off spot. Leverkusen, meanwhile, will take huge belief from a fightback that arrested that run of three straight defeats.
- Koo has now scored seven Bundesliga goals in 2015/16, setting a new personal season best in the process. His previous highest tally for campaign was five.This was also the South Korea international’s first Bundesliga hat-trick.Augsburg are still yet to beat Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. In ten matches, they have lost seven and drawn three.
Augsburg: Hitz – Verhaegh, Gouweleeuw, Hong (Janker 46’), Max – Baier (c) (Stafylidis 85’) - Esswein (Werner 70’) , Kohr, Koo, Caiuby – Finnbogason
Leverkusen: Leno (c) – Boenisch, Jedvaj (Frey 74’). Tah, Wendell – Kramer, Ramalho – Kruse (Yurchenko 85’), Calhanoglu, Brandt - Bellarabi