Leon Bailey came off the bench to rescue a point for Leverkusen in their 1-1 draw with Schalke on Friday night. The home side had taken a first-half lead through a stunning Leon Goretzka free-kick.
Schalke 1 - 1 Bayer Leverkusen
(Goretzka 34'- Bailey 61')
European hopefuls Schalke and Leverkusen battled out a 1-1 draw at the Veltins Arena on Friday night, in a result which doesn't help either side in their bid to find a consistent winning formula.
A drab opening 20 minutes saw Leverkusen dominate possession but both teams lacked any penetration in the final third.
It took a curling free-kick from Schalke's Leon Goretzka in the 34th minute to break the deadlock. Bernd Leno was rooted to the spot as teammate Karim Bellarabi ducked out of the ball's flightpath to leave a gaping hole in the defensive wall.
Schalke immediately pushed on for a second, Yevhen Konoplyanka forcing Leno to tip his long-range effort around the post. And from the resulting corner Naldo headed into the ground and just over the bar.
Leverkusen slowly regathered, however, and made more headway going forward in last five minutes of the first period.
Ralf Fährmann's first major involvement was to block Kevin Volland's free-kick in the 40th minute, before turning away a Julian Brandt shot just before the half-time whistle.
Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich rang the changes for the second half, withdrawing Bellarabi and Charles Aranguiz for Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz.
But Schalke continued to get into the better positions and Goretzka should have made it 2-0 on 55 minutes. The Germany international found himself with an open goal from six yards out, but blasted the ball over the bar.
Five minutes later, Leverkusen made Schalke pay as Bailey's introduction on the right wing gave them an incisive outlet in the final third. The 20-year-old Jamaican cut inside and let loose from the edge of the box, the ball looping off Matija Nastasic's outstretched boot and past a stranded Fährmann.
Leverkusen had the ball in the net again after 70 minutes, but Lucas Alario was correctly flagged offside.
In an end-to-end second half Schalke also had their chances, Amine Harit volleying wide before Leno made a string of saves to deny substitute Guido Burgstaller and Naldo in quick succession.
Bailey was proving a real difference for Leverkusen and the winger once again broke through Schalke's backline with minutes remaining. But Fährmann stood strong to block the effort away, the match ending 1-1.
Neither team will be happy with the result, as both sides continue to adapt to life under new coaches.
As it happened
FULL TIME: That's it. A decent game lit up by a pair of Leons. First Goretzka's brilliantly whipped free-kick gave Schalke the lead then Bailey entered at half time and got the equalizer to cap a performance full of menace. Match report to follow shortly.
90+ 4 -- Bailey again. Why didn't he start? The winger jinks inside and clips one with the outside of his left boot but Fährmann stops.
90' - Bailey, who has made a massive difference since his introduction at the break, tries to wriggle his way through but can't quite poke to ball to Alario. Then Schalke remove McKennie for Meyer.
87' -- Fährmann spills a long range driven free kick from Bailey - he's spilt a lot tonight - but he's also first to the loose ball.
85' -- Goretzka, Burgstaller and Naldo all go close from a pair of corners. Both sides going for this.
84' -- Konoplyanka off, Di Santo on.
82' -- Brandt stands one up for Alario but it's a little too high and his header goes over the bar. The Germany winger is then replaced by Kohr. Leverkusen still smarting a little from the VAR decision (s) it seems...
80' -- Harit drives one wide from the edge of the box after Leverkusen fail to clear their lines.
77' -- Wendell booked for a late tackle. Oczipa also went in the book in the middle of the penalty drama.
74' -- It took some time but no penalty. Tah had his hand on the shoulder of his opponent and it looked as if he was pulling him back. On the other hand, the contact was fairly minimal. Could've gone either way, which is really the issue with VAR in those circumstances.
72' -- More drama as we go to VAR to see if Schalke have a penalty.
70' -- Leverkusen think they have a second but Alario is correctly ruled offside. Brandt skipped a tackle, Fährmann spilt the cross and the ball eventually fell to the Argentinian - but with the keeper ahead of the ball, he was off.
67' -- Alario in the book for trying to prevent Schalke taking a qquick free-kick. This is anyone's game from here.
61' -- GOAL! He's made a huge impact since he came on and Leon Bailey has got the equalizer. The Jamaican youngster cut inside from the right and had a pop with his left foot. It took a big deflection off Nastasic and looped in to the net.
56' -- Goretzka misses an absolute sitter. The ball fell to him on his own on the edge of the six yard box, on the bounce but he leant back and blazed it over. Shocker. And it could be costly.
54' -- Embolo is removed. He didn't see a lot of the ball but it will have done him good to get some minutes under his belt. Burgstaller his replacement.
49' -- Almost an instant impression from Bailey as he takes a ball from the back and plays in Alario, whose first time effort is palmed away by Fährmann.
46' -- Bellarabi hauled off after that error from the free kick, he's replaced by Leon Bailey, who impressed against Hamburg. Charles Aranguiz is also removed, Kai Havertz on.
HALF TIME: Goretzka's exceptional free kick seperates the side in a half that got better the longer it went on. Levrkusen are by no means out of it but they'll need a little more guile in the second half. Replays on TV are showing that Karim Bellarabi split from the wall there, and Goretzka's strike went right in that gap.
45' -- Brandt lets fly from the edge of the box on the bounce and connects well, but Fährmann is equal to it.
42'-- A lovely flick from Konoplyanka sets Oczipka free down the left. His cutback finds Goretzka who can only clip over the bar under pressure.
40' -- Volland's turn from a dead ball situation but Fährmann pushes his free kick back in to the center of the box when it looked like he could've held on. Sven Bender is on the rebound but wastes it - he was offside anyway.
36' -- Konoplyanka almost makes it two but Leno pushes away. As the players wait for the corner there's a bit of argy-bargy before Naldo bounces a header over the bar.
34' -- GOAL! Goretzka curls a brilliant free kick in from about 25 yards. It started way outside the wall but had plenty of whip.
30' -- Alario almost in but Fährmann gets to the chipped through ball first. Almost a second in two games for Leverkusen's new Italian striker.
24' -- Oczipka's daisy-cutter from range is deflected wide. Decent effort that one.
22' -- Volland booked for tugging back his man before Konoplyanka overcooks a cross. Not a huge amount of quality on show so far but the Schalke US account have found some amusement.
19-- Fährmann gets down well to hold a low cross from Volland from the left.
16' -- Bellarabi gets a rare stretch of space down the right but his cross is poor.
11' -- Both teams knocking the ball about fairly well but struggling to make an impact in the final third.
7' -- Embolo penalized for handball on the halfway line. He's a big player to have back for the Royal Blues, hopefully he can stay fit this year.
5' -- Bellarabi skips inside and finds Wendell but his shot is blocked. The leftback then has an opportunity to cross but Schalke clear.
3' -- Schalke's American teen Weston McKennie has the first shot but puts it over the bar from long range.
1' -- Bayer Leverkusen get us, and matchday 6, underway.
And the teams are in. The biggest team news comes from Schalke, where record signing Breel Embolo gets his first start after more than a year out with an ankle injury.
After a midweek of Champions League thrillers, high profile sackings and German losses, the Bundesliga returns for the first game of matchday 7. Schalke, who have started their latest era brightly, host Leverkusen where the new dawn hasn't been quite so bright.