On the night of a quarter-final cup game, the Bürrig district of Leverkusen erupted in a massive outcry at 10:40 p.m. Xabi Alonso, the usually calm head coach of Bayer 04 may have added to the noise. The moment of victory was celebrated with a triumphant fist pump by the Spanish coach, releasing joy and tension into the night. In a thrilling match against VfB Stuttgart, Bayer 04 managed to secure a 3-2 victory despite being behind twice. Jonathan Tah, a defender, scored the decisive goal in the 90th minute, leaving the game’s outcome uncertain for a long time. VfB presented a strong challenge, but Bayer’s slight edge made their victory well-deserved.
“The win feels incredibly good, especially against such a strong opponent that gave us a lot of problems. It has filled us with energy and positive hope for what’s to come,” commented Tah on ARD. The team is now looking forward to their upcoming match against FC Bayern in the Bundesliga on Saturday, having remained unbeaten in 30 competitive games this season.
The match revealed some unusual images for the audience in the Bayarena. They saw Xabi Alonso, looking perplexed on the pitch, as if he couldn’t comprehend what was happening. His team didn’t look like the one he had been coaching since August, which was leading the league and was a significant cultural institution in German football.
Alonso’s players were caught up in duels and were playing solo, making bad passes instead of their usual quick passing sequences. The usually controlling Granit Xhaka seemed a bit lost. Stuttgart played their part in complicating things for Leverkusen. They presented a solid defense, causing Andrich to rough up his VfB colleague Karazor, which seemed more like a desperate attempt to wake up his teammates.
VfB took the lead in the twelfth minute, increasing the uncertainty for Bayer. Edmond Tapsoba let Waldemar Anton slip away, making a costly mistake. As the game progressed, Bayer became stronger but VfB managed to keep them in check. The match had a few exciting moments, like when Patrik Schick tested the goalkeeper Alexander Nübel from close range.
Andrich continues to play despite yellow card – and scores a dream goal
Despite carrying a yellow card and some deficiencies in the game, Andrich remained on the pitch in the second half. He managed to equalize with a long-range shot in the 50th minute. However, a loss of the ball in the penalty area less than ten minutes later gave Stuttgart the lead again. Chris Führich skillfully took his chance.
But VfB couldn’t leverage their lead into a game that would have overwhelmed Leverkusen. Florian Wirtz, who was tirelessly covering every square meter of the pitch to keep the game going, had something against it. His pass from his own half reached Amine Adli, who had just been substituted and was now hopelessly running away, and Nübel’s unplaced shot slipped into the net to make it 2-2 (66th).
Bayer had more to offer in the final quarter than the gradually tiring VfB, but the big opportunities no longer arose. It took until the 90th minute for Jonathan Tah to score the final header with great timing. The template, of course, came from Florian Wirtz, loosely from the ankle and precisely to the point as programmed.