Leverkusen and Dortmund Share Spoils
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08/17/2002. Last season's numbers one and two meet in Leverkusen, where the home team gave the eventual champions a definitive 4-0 spanking last February. The game begins with immediate and energetic wrangling in midfield, mainly in Leverkusen's half.
Oliver Neuville makes his presence known early and often in the early stage of the game. He pushes close to the goalmouth in minute four, but intense double-teaming forces him to shoot wide. Two minutes later a certain goal by Neuville is saved only by the tactical foresight of Sebastian Kehl, who slides in to back up the otherwise defeated Jens Lehmann. This rapid twin attack on the reigning champions trips a switch in the Leverkusen team's subconscious, spurring them on to revisit their dominant performances of last season. The anger, the frustration, the humiliation of being the "eternal bridesmaid" of this era in the Bundesliga must lead them to shed this image. But their next biggest task is proving that they can absorb the loss of two major players to rivals Bayern Munich and sustain top-level play.
Once again, it is Neuville at the vanguard of the Leverkusen attack, this time he caps an aggressive run towards goal with a harmless flop and referee Dr. Wack is not buying it.
At minute 17, Ewerthon makes a solo dash from the halfway mark and, despite a clever fork maneuver around Lucio, is blocked by Diego Placente's diving tackle. A leaping fall by the Brazilian striker also fails to impress Dr. Wack and play resumes.
Bernd Schneider works the ball into Dortmund's half swiftly and crosses to Dimitar Berbatov who deftly flicks the ball behind him. Placente is right there to control the ball and place a controlled left shot past Lehmann and into the right inside of the net. A well-earned opener.
Minutes later, Berbatov has the second goal stripped by an offsides call, though it appears he was robbed by referee error. Another attacker in a passive position is mistaken for Berbatov whose attack came from fair ground.
Play continues in hard fought style, giving Leverkusen the chance to accrue 4 yellow cards and Dortmund only one by the time of the whistle.
The second half sees both sides trying hard to establish control of the action. The game is peppered with hard-fought one-on-ones and swift attacks and counters at the front. Fouls are as steady as the attacks.
In minute 61, Jan Koller heads in the equalizer, a gem made possible by a perfect Rosicky through ball to Ewerthon who then chips it to the waiting giant. The second goal of the day is an equally well-deserved accomplishment. But hold on, Leverkusen won't take thislying down and Schneider, who has been a prime agitator, nearly slots the go-ahead reply with a crisp shot from the top of the penalty box. Lehmann is ready, though, and deflects it over the bar just in time.
The pace has been stepped up a few degrees, the tie has acted on the passions universally—the teams, the fans, the announcer—all are inspired by the smell of blood the second goal has wafted across the arena.
Daniel Bierofka is sent in for Leverkusen and immediately slips into the action. As the game enters the final 15 minutes, Dortmund looks to rely more heavily on powerful counterattacks. Each measured approach by Bayer Leverkusen unfailingly leads to a blitz-speed attack by the Dortmund front line. Bayer, however, is counting on the sinewy resilience of Schneider and Ramelow to continue feeding the front end and even aid in attacks, while Yildiray Bastürk keeps up the pressure, almost putting gin several himself.
But finally, the whistle blows with only seconds given of overtime. Both giants come away with a point and their pride intact. But in the meantime, they have to be content with the long view, because right now, Bochum is riding high on the top of the standings for the second week in a row. Who would have thought? Let 'em have a good long draught from the fountain. It's good for the league!
Bayer Leverkusen: Butt - Zivkovic, Juan, Lucio, Placente - B. Schneider, Bastürk, Ramelow, Simak - Neuville, Berbatov - Trainer: Toppmöller
Bor. Dortmund: Lehmann - Evanilson, Metzelder, Heinrich, Dede - Frings, Kehl, Rosicky - Ewerthon, Koller, Addo - Trainer: Sammer
Goals: 1:0 Placente (23., assist B. Schneider), 1:1 Koller (61., header, assist Ewerthon)
Substitutes: 68. Bierofka for Neuville, 73. Brdaric for Berbatov - 26. Madouni for Dede, 75. Odonkor for Addo, 87. Oliseh for Frings
Referee: Wack, Dr.
Spectators: 22500 (sold out)
Yellow cards: Neuville, Placente, B. Schneider, Bastürk, Simak - Dede, Addo