Hakan Calhanoglu provided a brace to seal Bayer Leverkusen’s 3-1 win over third-placed Hertha Berlin at the closer of the 17th round of Bundesliga action on Sunday.
Hertha Berlin started with a defeat out of the gate going into the second half of the campaign, as Valentin Stocker’s goal wasn’t enough to snatch a point against Bayer.
The hosts grabbed a fairy tale start on home soil as Oemer Toprak tapped home a free kick from close range to break the deadlock just 12 minutes into the encounter.
The “Werkself” retracted with the lead behind but they were nevertheless able to double the lead after Hakan Calhanoglu converted a handball penalty in the 36th minute.
Despite Bayer Leverkusen’s two-goal lead, Hertha Berlin were able to respond before the break as Stocker reduced the arrears after slotting home at the far post in the dying seconds of the first half.
After the restart, Leverkusen piled on the pressure and nearly extended the lead but Marvin Plattenhardt scratched Javier Hernandez’s effort on target off the goal line in the 57th minute.
Leverkusen created a number of promising opportunities and left them unused, while Berlin almost punished the hosts’ wastefulness. Still, Vedad Ibisevic failed to beat goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the 73rd minute.
However, the hosts had the last laugh as Kevin Kampl rushed down the left wing to lob the ball into the path of Calhanoglu, who volleyed home from eight meters into the top left corner to make the game safe with two minutes remaining.
“We have not played perfectly but played good enough to win. In the end, we deserved the win,” Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said.
“We had the chance to make it a two all draw but we didn’t used it,” Hertha Berlin coach Pal Dardai said.
With the result, Hertha Berlin slipped from 3rd to 5th place, whereas Bayer Leverkusen jumped from 9th to 8th position in the standings.
Elsewhere, Mainz and Cologne shared the spoils after playing out a goalless stalemate. The draw moved Cologne to 7th place while Mainz slumped to the 11th position. Enditem