Hannes Wolf opted for three alterations following the 0:0 draw with Hoffenheim on Monday evening. Florian Wirtz, Kerem Demirbay and Lucas Alario dropped out for Nadiem Amiri, Leon Bailey and Patrik Schick.
Friedhelm Funkel made four changes to the starting line-up from the 3:2 defeat against Mainz last weekend. Sebastiaan Bornauw, Jannes Horn, Max Meyer and Emmanuel Dennis came in to replace Jorge Meré, Noah Katterbach, Ondrej Duda and Sebastian Andersson.
It was not the start to the game that Funkel was hoping for, however. Leverkusen made their first chance count. Moussa Diaby managed to get free down the right and stand up a cross to the back post, where Leon Bailey headed home from five yards out. However, that was all that really came from the hosts in an opening period where both sides cancelled one another out.
FC turned up the pressure as the half went on and had several good chances to go ahead. Jonas Hector headed just wide from a Jannes Horn cross, while Marius Wolf was close to getting on the end of Florian Kainz’s low delivery. The best chance came after Wolf, who had originally been awarded a penalty, was only handed a free-kick. It was taken short to Hector, who cracked the crossbar.
Funkel’s side were comfortably better in the first period but failed to make the most of their opportunities. However, Leverkusen’s quality going forward almost saw them grab a second on half-time. A high ball in the box was met by Patrik Schick, though Timo Horn was equal to his powerful header. Overall, a promising first-half showing from the visitors.
Leverkusen responded to the first-half with two changes. Jeremie Frimpong and Jonathan Tah replaced Tin Jedvaj and Exequiel Palacios. It would, however, be FC would created the first chance. A promising run from Marius Wolf saw him pick out Jonas Hector, who again went agonisingly close to giving FC a route back into the game.
Leverkusen used FC’s miss to double their lead. They countered quickly from a corner as Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby went two-on-one against Jannes Horn. Leverkusen worked the ball from the former to the latter, as he tapped into an empty net. Not to be deterred, Funkel’s team continued to go forward and were hit the frame of the goal again. This time, Florian Kainz from 30 yards.
As Funkel’s team went in search of a way back into the game, Leverkusen struck for a third time. Leon Bailey picked the ball up on the right-hand side and went past two FC players before curling into the bottom corner. That is how the game remained as missed chances cost FC in Funkel’s first game. They are next in action against RB Leipzig on Tuesday evening at 18:30 CEST.
Bayer Leverkusen (3-2-4-1): Hradecky – Jedvaj (Frimpong 46’), Bender, Tapsoba – Aranguiz, Palacios (Tah 46’) – Diaby (Demirbay 73’), Amiri, Bailey (Alario 83’), Wendell (Sinkgraven 57’) – Schick.
1. FC Köln (4-2-3-1): T. Horn – Ehizibue (Schmitz 70’), Bornauw, Czichos, J. Horn (Katterbach 70‘) – Skhiri (Özcan 79’), Hector – Wolf (Limnios 86’), Meyer, Kainz (Drexler 70’) – Dennis.
Goals: 1:0, Bailey 5’. 2:0, Diaby 51’. 3:0, Bailey 76’.
Referee: Sören Storks (Velen).
Booked: Tapsoba (40’).
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