Leverkusen top Berlin 3-1 in Bundesliga

Leverkusen (Germany), Jan 23 (IANS) Hakan Calhanoglu provided a brace to seal Bayer Leverkusen’s 3-1 win over third-placed Hertha Berlin at the close of the 17th round of the Bundesliga football league here.

Hertha Berlin on Sunday started with a defeat going into the second half of the campaign, as Valentin Stocker’s goal wasn’t enough to snatch a point against Leverkusen, reports Xinhua.

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” doubled 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.

Hertha Berlin coach Pal Dardai said: “We had the chance to make it a two all draw but we didn’t use it.”

With the result, Hertha Berlin slipped from the third to fifth place, whereas Leverkusen jumped a place to be eighth in the German league standings.

Elsewhere, Mainz and Cologne shared the spoils after playing out a goalless stalemate. The draw moved Cologne to the seventh place while Mainz slumped to the 11th position.

–IANS

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