The start of the Europa League and the Europa Conference League went perfectly for Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt. Both Bundesliga teams won their home games. The European Cup competitions on Thursday at a glance:
Bayer Leverkusen offered magical football, at least for a time, and impressively underlined its claim as one of the title contenders. The Bundesliga table leaders defeated the Swedish champions and cup winners BK Häcken 4-0 (2-0). Coach Xabi Alonso rotated heavily and replaced almost half of the starting eleven.
Florian Wirtz (10th), Amine Adli (16th), Victor Boniface (66th), last year's top scorer in the competition wearing the Saint-Gilles jersey, and Jonas Hofmann (70th) scored the goals for Bayer, which came after six competitive games is still undefeated and scored 25:5 goals. Häcken also lost his third European Cup game in a main phase.
Alonso had made five changes to his team compared to the 2-2 draw at FC Bayern on Friday. Goalkeeper Matej Kovar, who was brought in from Manchester United for 3.5 million euros, made his debut, and the new signings Josip Stanisic and Nathan Tella made their first starting eleven appearances. In addition to captain and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, Hofmann and Jeremie Frimpong were initially given a break. Former Bielefeld player Jacob Laursen was supposed to start at Häcken, but he apparently injured himself while warming up.
Leverkusen left little doubt from the first second as to who would win this game. After Adriano Grimaldo narrowly missed (6th), Wirtz was successful after a remarkable pass from Boniface. Wirtz has already set up two goals for the Nigerian in the league. However, Bayer were also lucky when Kovar showed nerves and played the ball into Mikkel Rygaard's feet, but he didn't capitalize on it (8th). Adli, who missed the first three games of the season due to a suspension from the previous season, followed up with an impressive direct pass after a cross from Granit Xhaka. And it could have been much clearer earlier.
After half an hour, the guests also showed that they are actually an offensive-oriented team and Kovar was able to prove himself three times. After taking a short break before half-time, the Leverkusen team became more active again after the change and increased accordingly.
The second matchday of the group stage in the Europa League will be played on October 5th. Bayer 04 Leverkusen will then play at Molde FK in Norway (9 p.m.), SC Freiburg will host West Ham United from England (6.45 p.m.).
Despite a lackluster performance, Eintracht Frankfurt celebrated their hoped-for opening victory in the group stage of the Conference League. Under the watchful eye of DFB sports director Rudi Völler and managing director Andreas Rettig, the Bundesliga club won 2-1 (1-1) against FC Aberdeen in front of 55,500 spectators, but had a very difficult time doing so for long stretches.
Omar Marmoush in the 11th minute with a penalty kick and Robin Koch (62nd) scored the goals for the dominant 2022 Europa League winner, who had little to offer in attack against the staid Scots. Dante Polvara (22nd) scored for the guests to make it 1-1. Hessen's other opponents in Group G are the Greek runner-up PAOK Saloniki and Finland's champion HJK Helsinki.
Eintracht had the game largely under control against the defensively minded Scots, who played with a five-man defense. However, the Hessians were hardly able to create any chances. It was lucky for Eintracht that referee Chrysovalantis Theouli (Cyprus) awarded a penalty early on after a collision with junior Dinah Ebimbe in the penalty area. Marmoush turned ice cold.
With the lead behind them, Frankfurt lacked the necessary concentration and was punished for it. Ellyes Skhiri initiated a quick counterattack by the guests with a careless bad pass in midfield, which the free-standing Polvara completed with a dry shot under the crossbar. National goalkeeper Kevin Trapp was powerless.
Even before the break there was a personnel setback for the Hessians: Captain Sebastian Rode, who had just returned from sick leave, had to leave the field early with a suspected calf injury. Hugo Larsson came for him.
Eintracht also had clear field advantages afterwards, but they lacked creativity and assertiveness in attack. The offensive attempts repeatedly bounced off the Scottish defensive bulwark.
The consequence: Mario Götze and Paxten Aaronson stayed in the dressing room after the change, while Fares Chaibi and Jessic Ngankam came on. But it hardly got any better in terms of play. So a standard had to be used again. After a corner from Chaibi, Koch scored with his head. Afterwards, Eintracht managed their narrow lead, which was no longer in danger until the end.
The second matchday of the group stage in the Europa Conference League will be played on October 5th. Eintracht Frankfurt has to play against PAOK Saloniki in Greece (9 p.m.).