In the end, the goal by magic foot Vincenzo Grifo was not enough for Bundesliga club SC Freiburg. The Baden team had to settle for a 1-1 (1-0) draw against Bayer Leverkusen and have lost fourth place in the Champions League for the time being.
Grifo had given SC the lead with a superb free kick in the 29th minute, Iran's Sardar Azmoun scored the equalizer for the Werkself (67'), which was well deserved.
Freiburg loses Champions League place
Freiburg remained unbeaten in their fourth competitive game in a row and are now fifth in the table. They also set a club record. They had only managed ten consecutive home games without defeat in the Bundesliga in 2012 - at that time across the seasons. Three days after the successful penalty thriller in the Europa League at AS Monaco, Bayer prevented another setback in the league. Leverkusen, who have won only one of their last five league games, are in the table but ten points behind sixth place.
After playing from the start in 153 competitive games in a row, Freiburg captain Christian Günter had to watch this time because of a yellow card suspension. Lukas Kübler switched from right to left defence, and young Frenchman Kiliann Sildilla was a new addition to the team. After 25 minutes there was another change at SC: Coach Christian Streich brought on Roland Sallai for Ritsu Doan and from then on he defended with a back three.
Game picks up speed after leadership
In front of 34,000 spectators - including national coach Hansi Flick, who was heavily wrapped up because of the cold - there weren't any great opportunities in the first half hour. But then Grifo struck. The Italian international flicked a free kick from 25 meters over the wall and onto the right inside post, which is a sight to behold. From there the ball jumped to Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky and into the goal. It was the twelfth goal of the season for Freiburg's top scorer - and for SC it was the 16th goal after a dead ball this season.
Bayer, without the suspended Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapié and Amine Adli, struggled to come from behind. Shortly before the break, the guests scratched the balance. The conspicuous Moussa Diaby first hit the ball (35th) and then got bogged down (38th). Kerem Demirbay tested SC goalkeeper Mark Flekken, who was wearing the captain's armband in Günter's absence, with a powerful shot from the second row (40'). In addition, Jeremie Frimpong headed free-standing over the box (41st).
Bayer boosts - Freiburg leaves chances
Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso tried to boost his offensive and brought in national player Florian Wirtz for the second half instead of the Czech Adam Hlozek. The guests initially only became dangerous through a free kick from Demirbay, which flew over the goal (49th). Then Azmoun scored a technically demanding 1-1 after a buttery cross from Mitchel Bakker. The equalizer was deserved, but almost didn't last long. Only four minutes later, Freiburg missed a triple header chance, Philipp Lienhart hit the crossbar.