Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s hopes of progressing from UEFA Champions League Group E depend on other results after Die Werkself were held to a 1-1 draw by FC BATE Borisov in Belarus on Tuesday night.
Goals: 1-0 Gordeichuk (2’); 1-1 Mehmedi (68’)
Knowing a positive result would be vital to their chances of qualification from Group E, Leverkusen made the worst possible start by going behind after 80 seconds when Mikhail Gordeichuk's weak effort was allowed to dribble through the legs of Bernd Leno. The early goal played perfectly to BATE’s gameplan, the hosts content to sit deep and frustrate their star-studded guests, who failed to carve out many clear-cut openings. Admir Mehmedi twice threatened from distance, and it was the Swiss who teed up his side’s best chance of the half seconds before the interval, crossing low for Javier Hernandez, whose goalbound effort was well saved by Sergei Chernik.
That missed chance provided the impetus for Bayer to fly out of the blocks at the beginning of the second period. Chernik was again forced to deny Hernandez from close-range while Karim Bellarabi twice broke through the deep-lying BATE back four with a powerful run. Despite consistent pressure from Roger Schmidt’s side, it took until the 68th minute for an equaliser to arrive, Mehmedi’s attempted cross evading Chernik and nestling into the far corner. That, however, was the last real chance for the visitors, who lost their way after equalising, leaving their Champions League hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads.
Man of the match
While Hernandez enjoyed Leverkusen’s best chances, Mehmedi was his side’s creative heartbeat throughout. The Switzerland international provided a constant threat drifting from flank to flank in the first period and crowning his indefatigable display with the leveller.
While frustration at the result will linger, Roger Schmidt’s side showcased notable defensive improvement. The enforced pairing of Andre Ramalho and Jonathan Tah, while doubted before the game, snuffed out any BATE danger at source and contributed plenty to their side’s attacking efforts.
- Leverkusen enjoyed 21 shots to the hosts’ five.
- Hernandez covered 8860 metres in an effort to find a goal.
- Wendell, Giulio Donati and Kevin Kampl were all booked for Leverkusen.
Leverkusen: Leno - Donati, Ramalho, Tah, Wendell - Kampl, Kramer - Bellarabi, Calhanoglu (Brandt, 78’), Mehmedi (Yurchenko, 89’) - Hernandez
BATE: Chernik - Zhavnerchik, Milunovic, Mladenovic, Polyakov - Yablonski, A Volodko (Nikolic, 78’), Rios (M. Volodko, 46’) – Hleb (Karnitski, 73’), Mozolevski - Gordeichuk