Defensively astute Bochum hold Leverkusen to goalless draw
By Ultan Corcoran @UltanCorcoran
Both teams failed to find the net as the two defences' stood firm, while Moussa Diaby fluffed a penalty which could have been enough for Die Werkself.
|Armel Bella-Kotchap||Photo: VfL Bochum|
Once the flares’ smoke lifted from the Ruhrstadion terraces, the game got underway and half chances presented themselves at both ends – Schick scuffed an early shot into Riemann’s arms, while Pantovic gave the visitors’ defence a brief scare. Bochum have developed a reputation for being defensively resilient at home this campaign and Bella-Kotchap was testament to this title, pulling off an acrobatic clearance and further preventing Paulinho from pulling the trigger on 18 minutes.
Tah went off injured for B04 on the half hour mark and was replaced by Bakker with Hincapie switching to the centre-half slot. Less than five minutes before the break and Bochum had the best chance of the game thus far. Brazilian full-back Soares cut in from the left and cracked an effort off the crossbar with his weaker foot. Hradecky was relieved to lay claim to Polter’s goal bound header with the last piece of action of the half as the teams remained deadlocked at 0-0.
The hosts started the better of the two after the break and came close once more when Pantovic headed just wide. There were mild claims for a penalty when Tapsoba appeared to fell Polter who attempted to attack a Gamboa cross, but the German striker lost his footing rather than being impeded.
Just after the hour mark and it was roles reversed as Seoane’s side were awarded a penalty. Paulinho who looked lively all game was fouled by substitute Lowen when the winger recollected a pass from Schick. However, Leverkusen failed to capitalise when the unfortunate Diaby slipped while taking the resulting spot kick. A free out was swiftly given much to Riemann’s delight after the Frenchman was adjudged to have made double contact with the ball when striking from 12 yards out.
Just over 10 minutes to play and Demirbay, Schick, and Bellarabi parted for Palacios, Alario, and Sinkgraven in a bid to snatch all three points for Leverkusen. Bochum’s Japanese international Asano who bagged a brace last time out made way, as too did Polter for Simon Zoller. The latter received rapturous applause from the stands after returning from a near 200-day absence with a cruciate ligament rupture.
In the end it was neither team who could make the breakthrough as the game ended 0-0. This was reflected in the xGoals statistics at full time as Reis’ Bochum finished with an xG of 0.85, whilst Leverkusen couldn’t find the net with their respective 1.19 xG. Credit must be given to both rearguards however, as players like Bella-Kotchap, Danilo Soares, and Gamboa stood out for VfL, while Kossounou and Tapsoba performed admirably for the guests.