Leverkusen fail to take advantage of Wolfsburg’s hiccup, draw Borussia Dortmund
Bayer Leverkusen failed to take full advantage of Wolfsburg’s slip-up at home to Freiburg as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund which gives them only a slender advantage in the race for fourth.
All the goals came in the first half as Lars Bender gave the home team the lead, but Oliver Kirch leveled for second-place Dortmund.
Gonzalo Castro restored Leverkusen’s advantage but a Marco Reus penalty denied them maximum points and kept the race for the Bundesliga’s fourth Champions League berth wide open going into the final two weekends of the season.
Leverkusen on Friday announced the appointment of Roger Schmidt from the start of next season, but it will be up to caretaker-coach Sascha Lewandowski to determine which European competition he will be participating in.
Wolfsburg’s draw with Freiburg earlier on Saturday gave Leverkusen the chance to open up a three-point cushion with two games of the season remaining, and they got off to a flyer at the BayArena with Bender heading them in front from close range after the ball struck the crossbar off the back of Stefan Kiessling.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan led Dortmund’s efforts to find an equaliser in an open and entertaining encounter. It took a foul by Emre Can on Kevin Grosskreutz to grant Dortmund the opportunity to level in the 29th minute, and Marco Reus curled a free-kick perilously towards the goal with Kirch flicking it past Bernd Leno for his first goal in a black and yellow shirt.
Their joy was short-lived, though, with Leverkusen regaining the lead only five minutes later.
Son Heung-min paraded across the edge of the penalty area before threading a pass through to Julian Brandt. The 17-year-old’s cross was met by the head of Castro and he directed it back across Roman Weidenfeller, who was wrong-footed and could only watch as the ball landed in the back of his goal.
Leverkusen were only able to hold onto their lead for three minutes before Roberto Hilbert handled the ball inside the penalty area and Reus stepped up to score his 10th goal in the last 10 games to bring Dortmund level once again.
Dortmund had an air of superiority about their game in the second half, but Leverkusen held firm and even managed to create the more dangerous openings, none more so than in the 72nd minute.
Brandt was presented with only Weidenfeller to beat and he showed no sign of nerves or inhibition as he tried to lob the Dortmund custodian, who stretched out his hand and made a great save, securing Dortmund a point.