Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller was lost for words after their 5-0 Champions League loss against Manchester United at the BayArena.
Head coach Sami Hyypia admitted his side had been taught a lesson after the game, which eclipsed Rot-Weiss Luedenscheid’s 4-0 win in the 1977-78 2. Bundesliga season as Leverkusen’s worst-ever home defeat.
The Bundesliga side had been only a point behind Group A leaders United going into Wednesday’s game, which Voeller had been viewing as “the highlight of our Champions League season,” but their fate is no longer in their own hands going into their final match against Real Sociedad.
“Words fail me,” Voeller said. “That was a very bitter evening. We need to build the team up again. The players are down. We did not expect this. We still have a chance.”
Leverkusen now trail second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk by one point and, if they better the Ukrainian side’s result at Old Trafford on the final day, will still reach the knockout stage. Hyypia is hopeful his side can produce a reaction.
“That was a lesson for us,” Hyypia said. “United profited from our mistakes. I hope that that match was good for the future and we learned from it.”
The former Liverpool defender feels his team fell apart after Emir Spahic headed the ball into his own net on 30 minutes, adding: “It wasn’t really bad up until the second goal. Then we lost our faith that we could turn it around.”
The German press generally described the match as a “debacle” for Leverkusen, who currently sit second in the Bundesliga, and the word “humiliation” was used frequently through coverage of the match.
Express captured the mood, headlining its coverage: “Embarrassing Bayer! Rooney becomes a nightmare.” The tabloid added: “It should have been the game of all games. Bayer’s moment of glory. It turned out to be a non-starter, a nightmare, a bitter show.”
Koelner Stadtanzeiger called it a “brutal lesson” and Rheinische Post -- which had run a lengthy article on Tuesday about Leverkusen’s first match on free TV in over a year -- said: “Bayer embarrassment against Manchester.”
Bild took it one step further and headlined its coverage: “Historic defeat. Bayer embarrasses us.”
Referring to the 40-year-old Ryan Giggs' performance, it added: “One team had a grandpa on board, the other played like the elderly.”
Leverkusen had said that they hoped to “do a Dortmund” ahead of the game, and Bild added: “Big mouth, big hammering.”