It wasn’t meant to be. Despite a committed Werder performance, they were knocked out in the quarter finals of the DFB-Pokal against Bayer Leverkusen. The Green-Whites’ cup run is over after a 4-2 loss after extra time against the team second in the Bundesliga. In front of 25,653 people at the BayArena, two quick-fire goals from Max Kruse (4’ pen) and Aron Jóhannsson put SVW in a brilliant position earlier on. But Bremen-born Julian Brandt scored a brace to force extra time (31’, 55’). Then Karim Bellarabi, on as a substitute, scored for Leverkusen (111’) before setting up Kai Havertz to seal the exciting cup tie two minutes from time (118’).
Starting line-up and formation: Head coach Florian Kohfeldt switched things up in attack three days after the away win at Schalke. Captain Zlatko Junuzovic came back into the starting XI, as did Florian Kainz and Aron Jóhannsson made his first appearance in the Werder starting line-up since September 2016. Jerome Gondorf, Ishak Belfodil and new signing Milot Rashica were on the bench. The defence stayed as it was with Jiri Pavlenka behind Theodor Gebre Selassie, Milos Veljkovic, Niklas Moisander and Ludwig Augustinsson in defence. Maxi Eggestein played behind Thomas Delaney and Junuzovic in midfield.
3rd minute: PENALTY to SVW! Tah tries to clear the ball but collides with Kruse and the ref points to the penalty spot.
4th minute: GOAAAAAAAAL, 1-0 to SVW, Max Kruse. Kruse fires the ball past Bernd Leno into the bottom-right corner.
5th minute: PAVLENKA! Leverkusen come back strong with Brandt crossing it into the middle from the right where Bailey heads it into the ground but Pavlenka dives and prevents the equaliser.
7th minute: GOAAAAAAAAAL, 2-0 to SVW, Aron Jóhannsson. The Green-Whites take the ball into the Leverkusen half and Kruse plays Jóhannsson in perfectly and the American chips it perfectly over Leno.
31st minute: Goal, 2-1, Julian Brandt pulls one back for Bayer 04. Veljkovic is pulled over too far by Volland and Kohr is played in through the middle before squaring it for Brandt to tap in.
39th minute: SO CLOSE! Kainz tries one from 30 yards out but Leno makes an incredible save to keep it out.
45+2 minute: Half-time. Werder have a deserved lead at the break.
46th minute: The match is back underway but without Aron Jóhannsson, who had to come off with an injury and has been replaced by Milot Rashica on the right wing.
55th minute: Goal, 2-2, Julian Brandt equalises for Bayer 04. The game is level once again with Kohr and Lars Bender combining in midfield before Brandt beats Veljkovic and curls the ball home from outside the area, leaving Pavlenka no chance.
74th minute: A long Leverkusen throw-in is launched into the Green-White area and is headed on by Brandt to Kohr in the six-yard box but Pavlenka keeps the shot out.
79th minute: Sheeesh, that was close. Leverkusen have Jonathan Tah to thank for keeping that one out, who blocked Delaney’s shot from 11 metres out after a brilliant cross from Rashica.
90+2 minute: Nothing more to report. Off to extra time we go.
91st minute: Extra time is underway and Ishak Belfodil is on for Florian Kainz.
102nd minute: POST! The Green-Whites get away with one as Leon Bailey’s free-kick from 20 yards hits the post and stays out.
105+3 minute: Half time in extra time with a bit of a scuffle at the end of the half leading to Kohr and Bailey being booked.
111th minute: Goal, 3-2 to Bayer 04, Karim Bellarabi. Gutting. A free-kick puts Werder behind. Bailey plays it into the area, Alario wins the header and plays it to the far post where Bellarabi is running in and fires it past Pavlenka.
115th minute: The spaces are starting to open up at the back: Leverkusen counter, Bellarabi is all alone at the back post but Pavlenka reacts brilliantly to prevent the decider.
118th minute: Goal. 4-2 to Leverkusen, Kai Havertz. That settles it – Havertz turns converts after a simple triangle combination and puts the game to bed.
Full time: Werder’s DFB Pokal journey comes to a gut-wrenching end.
No hesitation, no caution: to the delight of the spectators, both sides threw everything they had at this quarterfinal from the word ‘go’. The opening quarter of an hour saw goal-mouth action almost by the minute. Of course, the early two-goal lead gave Werder the upper hand, but above all it was their constant high pressing and their superior strength in the tackle which the hosts found so difficult to come to terms with. The free-flowing, attacking football they are used to playing here was thwarted by the fearless visitors. Despite this, they managed to make full use of one of the few openings in the Werder defence, reducing the deficit to just one goal, but Werder were unfazed and began to hit back immediately, creating chances and maintaining the upper hand all over the pitch. Only after half time, did the Werder boys begin to let the intensity drop. And so Leverkusen began to edge their way back into the game, enjoying more and more spells in Werder’s defensive third, one of which soon produced a Julian Brandt belter to level the score. As Leverkusen improved going forward, Werder’s attacking forces found it increasingly difficult to cause the opposition defence any real problems, until the final moments of regulation time. In extra time, the sides’ high energy in the first half took its toll, with both lurking and waiting for the other to make a mistake. Unfortunately, it was Werder’s concentration that lapsed first – Leverkusen pounced and booked their place in the semi-finals.