Status: 10.12.2023, 17:31 PM
Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz in action. © Tom Weller/dpa
In a thrilling duel, leaders Leverkusen only got up to speed in the second half. A national player saves the Super Series.
Stuttgart - Bayer Leverkusen didn't let surprise team VfB Stuttgart stop them, but they didn't take full advantage of FC Bayern's blunder. Thanks to a stronger second half, the unbeaten league leaders drew 1-1 (0-1) at VfB on Sunday. The national player Florian Wirtz, who recovered in time, saved the draw for the leaders from the Rhineland in front of 54,500 spectators. Chris Führich had put the Swabians in the lead (40th).
With the 22nd game in a row without defeat across all competitions, the Bayer team extended the gap to FC Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga table to four points, but the Munich team have played one game less. After a brilliant first half, surprise third-placed Stuttgart missed out on an even better way to get in the mood for next Sunday's away game at FC Bayern. After all, VfB became only the third Bundesliga team after Bayern and Dortmund to earn a draw against the Rhinelanders.
Leverkusen's young star Florian Wirtz was fit in time after his ankle problems in the DFB Cup win against SC Paderborn and was able to play from the start. National team colleague Jonas Hofmann was not part of the starting line-up for the first time this Bundesliga season and only came on after just over an hour for Amine Adli, who had started for him. In the hope of a similarly strong performance from VfB as on Wednesday evening in the DFB Cup round of 2 against Borussia Dortmund (0-<>), VfB coach Hoeneß relied on the same starting eleven.
And the hope of the hosts was fulfilled. Right from the start, a fast-paced, entertaining top duel developed, in which the Swabians put the league leaders from the Rhineland under strong pressure and offered courageous football. Stuttgart created a number of high-quality chances early on.
First, Chris Führich tested Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky (2'). Then the Bayer defence got into a lot of trouble after a free-kick by Serhou Guirassy and had to clear the shots of Deniz Undav and Josha Vagnoman twice on the line (6'). After the previous two games with his front two Guirassy and Undav, VfB coach Hoeneß had warned as slight points of criticism that the conversion of chances could be better. That was true this time as well. Hradecky was just on the spot for Undav's next shot (17'), and Guirassy could have made it 1-0 when he appeared pretty much alone in front of Hradecky (25').
The lead was then deserved and well played: Vagnoman beat Alejandro Grimaldo on the right side, Stuttgart's new international Führich dusted off. Bayer also had their chances in the first half, but not as many as the Swabians. Adli hit the post (8'), Victor Boniface was denied by keeper Alexander Nübel (24') after a mistake by the VfB defence.
After the change of sides, the picture changed. The guests came out of the dressing room better and with a greater self-image. After an assist from Victor Boniface, Wirtz quickly celebrated the equaliser. Shortly afterwards, Leverkusen were unlucky not to have turned the game around when Granit Xhaka's long-range shot hit the post. Stuttgart didn't get around to imposing their attacking play on Leverkusen like they did in the first half. Shortly before the end, Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah put a shot just wide of the target (87'). Dpa