Germany's red company team shook off a spry Israeli side and overcame some defensive meltdowns to prevail 4-2 over Hapoel Beer Sheva.
|Tin Jedvaj.||Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
With an entirely new back-four (Tin Jedvaj, Wendell Borges, Jonathan Tah, and Aleksandar Dragovic replaced Edmond Tapsoba, Daley Singraven, and the Bender twins), Peter Bosz's Werkself contested a match against one of Israel's top teams in the land where Bosz once coached.
Leverkusen struck first with a close-range finish from Leon Bailey in the 5th minute. The Israeli hosts were nevertheless able to pick off a pass from one of the new defensive line members (Wendell) and eventually snatch a quick equalizer in the 11th.
Dutch striker Elton Acolatse followed up his fine finish with another goal in the 25th. This time the Hapoel striker ripped through the Bayer defensive ranks, directly outdekeing Tah, Dragovic, and Jedvaj to complete a brace and give his side a 2-1 lead.
A rattled German side struggled mightily to get their attack set back up again. A well-constructed five-man defensive line from Beer Sheva trainer Josef Abukassis kept them at bay. Bosz's men were extremely lucky to grab an equalizer six minutes before the break when Or Dadia accidentally steered and Jedvaj header into his own net.
Looking much more organized after the restart, Bosz's 4-2-3-1 began to generate wave and after wave of chances in the second half. Bailey and Exequiel Palacios missed big chances before the former finally found the back of the net after Hapoel keeper Ohad Levita irresponsibly left it unguarded on a wayward run in the 75th.
Second-half substitute Moussa Diaby would set up young phenom Florian Wirtz in the 88th to put matters beyond all doubt. Despite a loss last week, the German representatives left Israel at the top of their Europa League group, based on goal differential.