Following RB Leipzig’s shock draw at home with SC Freiburg on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen had an opportunity to close the gap in their hunt for a Champions League qualification place to just one point last night. It was an opportunity they took with both hands, putting four goals past a Werder Bremen side really struggling for confidence even despite the break.
Leverkusen looked assured from the outset and passed the ball very confidently, perhaps the lack of a hostile crowd aiding this. 17 year-old Florian Wirtz made his debut for the away side, becoming the third youngest player to make his Bundesliga debut. The man he replaced as Leverkusen’s youngest ever Bundesliga player, Kai Havertz, shone in a false nine role where he was allowed the freedom to drop deep to collect the ball.
It was Havertz who opened the scoring with a back post header in the 28th minute, following a darting run and looping cross from the impressive 20 year-old Moussa Diaby. Bremen applied some pressure and responded quickly, with Selassie neatly flicking a Bittencourt corner past Hrádecky in the Leverkusen goal in the 30th minute.
Bremen would have hoped they could push on after getting level but this hope was dashed just three minutes later when Havertz again displayed his aerial ability, this time heading in from a Demirbay free-kick for his second of the evening and 8th of the season in the league.
The score remained 1-2 to Leverkusen until half-time and the pattern of the away side’s dominance did not change following the break, with the visitors finishing the game with 63% possession. Diaby was again the provider with a cross from the left which saw Leverkusen net their third header of the game, this time right back Mitchell Weisel getting in on the act from the back post.
Bremen were not without chances, with Eggestein missing a glorious chance to make the score 2-3 and set up an exciting finale, slotting wide with the goal gaping following a cutback from Davie Selke. However, if the third goal didn’t put the game to bed then Leverkusen’s fourth certainly did. They saved their best goal of the night until last with a sublime no-look pass from substitute Karim Bellarabi playing Demirbay through on goal who held his nerve to deftly chip over the Bremen keeper, a finish you wouldn’t associate with a player yet to get off the mark in the league this season.
This performance and result shows that Bayer Leverkusen mean business for the tail end of the season and will be pushing the top four all the way for a Champions League qualification place. Havertz, Diaby and co. were showing no effects of the break and look ready for the challenge which is sure to see an exciting finale to the season.
At the other end of the table things look bleak for Werder Bremen who have now failed to win any of their last seven league games, only managing one draw in that time. Sitting in 17th, games against the teams around them in the table are likely to decide their fate but the way they were carved apart at times last night means you fear the worst for the side who have only spent one season outside of the Bundesliga in their history. They will be hoping they can take advantage of their game in hand and put the pressure on Fortuna Düsseldorf in the upcoming weeks, who sit five points above them in the relegation play-off place.