Karim Bellarabi (111. minute) and Kai Havertz (118.) ensured on Tuesday in extra time for the first Leverkusen Cup victory against Bremen in the seventh attempt. All previous six cup duels had been won by Bremen. Max Kruse (4., penalty) and Aron Johannsson (7.) had given Werder an early lead in front of 25,653 spectators, Julian Brandt scored a brace (31., 55.) provided the balance.
"We are very, very happy after this game," said the outstanding Brandt after the game on ARD television. "After the 2:2 we all had the feeling that there was more to come." Bayer coach Heiko Herrlich was relieved and proud at the same time. "I am very, very happy. We were naturally shocked after the 0:2, but our team has shown great morale. These are the most beautiful victories."
The Bremen team, on the other hand, was frustrated. "Of course we are very disappointed because we found very well into the game. It was a gripping cup battle, but unfortunately we lost out," said Bremen captain Zlatko Junuzovic.
The Bremen team had been stuck in a traffic jam with the team bus before the match and had arrived at the BayArena only about 50 minutes before kickoff. Nevertheless, the guests were fully there from the start and started furiously. Werder took the lead as early as the third minute. Leverkusen international Jonathan Tah got in too impetuously against Kruse in the penalty area, the Bremen striker converted the penalty kick safely for 1:0.
Practically in return, the home side almost equalized. But Bremen’s goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka made a spectacular save from Leon Bailey’s touchdown. Instead Werder extended the lead a little later. Johannsson used a dream pass from the strong Kruse to make it 2:0. Bayers sports director Rudi Voller watched the completely disoriented initial phase of his team with a petrified expression in the stands.
Johannsson had been given preference over Ishak Belfodil for the Bremen side. In addition, Florian Kainz started for newcomer Milot Rashica and captain Zlatko Junuzovic for Jerome Gondorf. Werder coach Florian Kohfeldt had thus set up his team quite offensively. A marching order that the second-placed team from Leverkusen could not cope with at all in the beginning.
It was only after half an hour that the Bayer eleven caught itself and finally showed some pleasing actions. Brandt, who was born in Bremen, scored one of them after just over half an hour to make it 1:2. Werder now lost control of the game for a few minutes, but came back before the break. But Bayer goalkeeper Bernd Leno made two strong saves against Kainz.
"That was a perfect start for us. The guys did almost everything right," said Bremen’s supervisory board boss Marco Bode at halftime on pay TV channel Sky. "But it’s only half-time," warned the former national player.
And Bode’s worries proved to be justified just ten minutes after the change of ends. Brandt equalized with a dream goal from just over 18 minutes – the thrilling cup match now finally turned into a gripping cup fight. Leverkusen now took control of the game, but failed to decide the game in regulation time.
In extra time, Bailey circled a free kick to the post (102.), the meeting now became increasingly hectic. After a scuffle, Leverkusen’s Kohr and Bailey saw yellow cards. Then Bellarabi and Havertz made their move.