Matchday 17: Bayer also wins when Wirtz makes a comeback from the start

17th matchday
Bayer also wins Wirtz’ start-up comeback

Bayer Leverkusen continued their upward trend with the win against Bochum. photo

© Marius Becker/dpa

On March 13, 2022, Florian Wirtz suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in the derby against Cologne. Now he is back in the Leverkusen starting XI. And prepares a goal in the 2-0 win against Bochum.

Bayer Leverkusen rolls up the field in the Bundesliga further from behind. When Florian Wirtz returned to the starting XI after 318 days, last year’s third-placed team celebrated their fifth win in a row thanks to an assist from the international in a 2-0 (1-0) win over VfL Bochum.

As a result, the Werkself have worked their way up to eighth place after a disastrous start to the season, and the European Cup positions are within sight again sooner than expected.

Edmond Tapsoba with a penalty kick (8th minute) and Adam Hlozek on a cross from Wirtz (52nd) scored the goals for Leverkusen. A series of three wins ended for Bochum. The Westphalians last celebrated four successes in a row in 1980. VfL slipped back to the relegation place at the end of the first half of the season.

It was quickly noticed by both teams that after a frustrating start they had recently had successful streaks. It quickly became clear who was to get on the road to victory. Bayer’s winger Moussa Diaby was caught on the foot at the end of a solo by Keven Schlotterbeck. Although Leverkusen played the situation to the end and Hlozek failed due to VfL keeper Manuel Riemann, referee Timo Gerach from Landau in der Pfalz gave a penalty on his first division debut after video evidence. The 36-year-old referee is not actually on the 24-name list of Bundesliga referees, but was given a chance as part of a model by referee boss Lutz-Michael Fröhlich. It was the eleventh penalty against Bochum this season.

Wirtz didn’t take the penalty just yet, but let Tapsoba have the ball. The defender from Burkina Faso, previously a solid scorer in Portugal with nine goals in nine attempts in all competitions for Vitória Guimarães, smashed his first Bundesliga penalty untenably under the bar. The courageous and self-confident Bochum team almost scored the equalizer, but Takuma Asano, who had been a Japan terror to Germany since the 2-1 victory at the World Cup in Qatar, initially failed to hit Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky, and Piero Hincapié hit the ball in front of the line away. In the 13th minute, Leverkusen were already celebrating Diaby’s supposed 2-0 lead, but he was offside.

And Wirtz? The 19-year-old, who tore his cruciate ligament in March and made his first 15-minute appearance on Sunday in a 3-2 draw in Mönchengladbach, had a lot of freedom in central midfield. Initially, however, it was not involved again as before, and logically it also lacked the otherwise impressive self-image in its actions. Only one shot on goal, one assist and 21 ball contacts were in the statistics for him until the break.

But he was diligent, no other Leverkusen ran more. And slowly found its way into the game. Two minutes after the break he was still too timid with a chance to score, then he set up Hlozek’s goal with a sharp cross. When he was substituted after 71 minutes and 45 touches, the spectators rose and celebrated him.


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