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Andrich: “You almost can’t hit the cross any better”

Once again, Bayer 04 Leverkusen scored an important late goal. After the 2:2 draw at Qarabag Agdam, Robert Andrich was delighted with his assist, but was also a reminder

The smell of Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s first defeat of the season lingered in the humid air of Baku well into stoppage time. The Werkself, who had not played well in the first half in particular, were 2-1 down. In the second minute of stoppage time, however, joker Patrik Schick rose high and headed in to make it 2-2 – and ensured that Xabi Alonso’s team remained unbeaten after 90 minutes in the pouring Azerbaijani rain.

Assist provider Robert Andrich was in a correspondingly good mood on RTL+. “I don’t think you can hit the cross any better,” said Andrich, delighted with his perfectly served cross. Despite all the late joy over the equalizer, the six-man, who this time played alongside starting eleven comebacker Exequiel Palacios and not midfield boss Granit Xhaka, was not unaware that the Werkself, who had changed eight positions in total, were largely devoid of ideas and all the more error-prone, especially in the first half.

“Too slow” and not “aggressive enough “

“Of course we weren’t good, but Qarabag did very well too. They gave 120 per cent in the first 60 or 70 minutes,” analyzed Andrich. Their own play was “too slow” and not “aggressive enough”. The opponents, on the other hand, “waited for counterattacks, which we also gave them today”. Time and again, it was ball losses or sloppy passing that put Bayer 04 in trouble. It was particularly glaring before the two goals: Before the 0:1, Jonathan Tah did not handle a ball cleanly when playing with Palacios, and when Qarabag conceded the second goal, a vertical pass was enough after winning the ball.

This defensive error was addressed during the break, especially as an even heavier defeat would have further worsened the starting position for the second leg. That’s why the motto for the second half was: “We might not win the game, but we want to go home with a good result. “

The equalizer “speaks for morale “

Jeremie Frimpong came onto the pitch straight from the restart, followed by Xhaka and Florian Wirtz in the 58th minute. The Werkself’s attacking play became more determined and Wirtz took advantage of a mistake by the home side with a fantastic lob to score the equalizer. As Qarabag’s players increasingly struggled with cramp, Schick was the next wild card.

“The fact that we managed to make it 2:2 speaks volumes for our morale,” praised Andrich, but also pointed out: “That doesn’t always go well, we know that too.” After all, it was not the first time this season that the Werkself had scored a decisive goal late on. Andrich also knows that this will probably not always happen: “Of course we have to go one better, but the morale speaks for the team once again.”

The best time to do so is on Sunday (7.30 pm) against Wolfsburg or then in the second leg at home against Qarabag on Thursday, when they will play for a place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

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