Bayer Leverkusen remains on course for a top-four finish, after coming from behind to draw with a Schalke side now winless in an unwanted club record 13 Bundesliga matches.

Schalke coach David Wagner threw a curveball by giving a Bundesliga debut to Can Bozdogan, a U19 midfielder, and calling Ahmed Kutucu in the start line-up for the first time.

It was the latter who, within three minutes, nearly broke the deadlock, but after Lukas Hradecky had spilled a solid, long-range effort from US international Weston McKennie, he was unable to guide his finish on target.

In a superb recovery attempt to deny Kutucu, Mitchell Weiser put another sight of the Leverkusen goal before the visitors threatened him through Lucas Alario, who sent a header over. The Argentine had ruled out a goal late in the half for offside but not before Hradecky’s palms stung Caligiuri.

Early in the second half, when Leverkusen defender Edmond Tapsoba was adjudicated to have handled Jonjoe Kenny’s right-wing cross, Schalke’s positive attitude was rewarded. Caligiuri leaped high into the net to thunder the ensuing spot-kick and Hradecky went the wrong direction.

Nadiem Amiri was tipped over by Alexander Nübel and Alario sent an agonizingly wide heading as Leverkusen upped their ante. Substitute Kevin Volland checked Nübel in front of Alario with a goal-saving block before Özan Kabak put the body on the line.

Ultimately, Bayer was rewarded for their efforts when Juan Miranda, a loaner from Barcelona, but Amiri ‘s cross in his net ahead of Paulinho to secure a point that puts them above the fifth place of Borussia Mönchengladbach.


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