Clouded by injury concerns about Florian Wirtz, Bayer Leverkusen’s record hunters have reached the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup and are favorites for the rest of the competition. The Bundesliga table leaders only managed to get rid of their compulsory task in the round of 16 against the brave second division tenth-placed SC Paderborn with difficulty in a 3-1 (2-0) win on Wednesday evening. After the elimination of record winners FC Bayern Munich and defending champions RB Leipzig, Bayer are now given the best chance of winning the title. After 21 competitive games this season, the Werkself are still unbeaten with 19 wins.
A big downer for Leverkusen was the injury-related loss of national player Wirtz, who had to leave the field after being kicked on the heel (44th minute). Wirtz was then able to perform, but was escorted into the dressing room with a contorted face in pain and supported by two supervisors. Bayer initially wrote that the 20-year-old had received a “painful blow to his ankle.”
Paderborn braver than Dortmund
The goals for Bayer were scored by Victor Boniface (12th) with his 14th competitive goal since his move in the summer, the Argentine world champion Exequiel Palacios (29th) and Patrik Schick twelve minutes after coming on as a substitute (87th). Paderborn, which won 3-1 at SC Freiburg in the previous round and whose coach Lukas Kwasniok led 1. FC Saarbrücken to the semi-finals as the first fourth division club in 2020, shortened the score through Sebastian Klaas (83′). But it wasn’t enough for the third quarter-final in the club’s history after 2018 and 2019.
As in the Europa League, Leverkusen’s coach Kwasniok sent a signal at the weekend by swapping seven players and also announced that regular goalkeeper Jannik Huth would be replaced by Pelle Boevink until the winter break. Huth was not in the squad on Wednesday. “He is not sick or injured, but unable to do so for personal reasons,” said the SCP: “He will be back in the squad as soon as possible!”
Given their nature, the Paderborn team started quite courageously, at least much more courageously than Borussia Dortmund in the 1-1 draw on Sunday at the BayArena. However, it was impossible to prevent Leverkusen from dominating the game. And neither was the early 1-0. After a cross from Bayern loanee Josip Stanisic, Boniface converted with a direct pass that was worth seeing. When Palacios scored from 18 meters after just under half an hour, the game was basically already decided.
Marc Heinrich, Saarbrücken Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 3 Published/Updated: Roland Zorn, Stuttgart Published/Updated: Recommendations: 1
After the break, Leverkusen had even more chances even without Wirtz. Boevink held well against Alejandro Grimaldo (50th) and Boniface (51st), Jonas Hofmann was offside when he scored (53rd). In the end, Paderborn pressed again and continued to believe in their chance. The goal briefly brought tension, which Schick quickly destroyed.