Bayer Leverkusen got back to winning ways in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg.
The win takes them into a pack of teams chasing the top three and leaves the Wolves struggling on the back of their fifth defeat of the season.
Gonzalo Castro gave Leverkusen the lead in the 14th minute, but Mario Mandzukic levelled for the visitors on the hour mark.
Eren Derdiyok restored the home team’s advantage five minutes later and Stefan Kiessling rounded off the win five minutes from time.
The three points will be particularly welcome for Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt, who had moved into the firing line after heavy defeats to Cologne and Bayern Munich in their last two league matches.
Leverkusen could have gone ahead in the 13th minute when Kiessling met Sidney Sam’s cross with his head from point-blank range, but Diego Benaglio somehow managed to keep the ball out.
There was nothing Wolfsburg’s Swiss goalkeeper could do a minute later, though, as Castro took the ball round him and scored from a tight angle after Derdiyok and Kiessling crafted the opening.
Fresh from his goal in the Champions League in midweek, Michael Ballack almost got his name on the scoresheet again, but his shot hit the post in the 38th minute.
Benaglio then denied the former Germany captain with a fine save just before the interval.
Leverkusen were punished for not adding to their early goal when the Wolves drew level in the 52nd minute. Marcel Schafer crossed to the far post from the goal line and Mandzukic leapt to head in from close range.
Their joy at equalising was short-lived, however, with the lively Derdiyok restoring Leverkusen’s lead in spectacular fashion in the 65th minute.
He met Hanno Balitsch’s cross with an acrobatic overhead kick that left Benaglio no chance.
Kiessling then ended Wolfsburg’s faint hopes of finding an equaliser, keeping his cool to beat Benaglio in a one-on-one situation after being put through by Simon Rolfes.
Short comment by Patrick1904:
A convincing team effort yesterday by the Werkself, it seems like that the focus on communication this week between players and coach has paid off. The rare public criticism of Bayer 04’s management towards a player/team performance, in this case Wolfgang Holzhäuser vs Renato Augusto: “His performances have been poor lately, we expect more of him”, have clearly shaken things around if you look at the first goal celebration and Castro’s defense after the game: “He is a sensitive player, the celebration was planned beforehand”.
Together with the first time use this season of a 4-4-2 and some needed modifications to the line-up itself (Rolfes and Renato deserved a place on the bench), the Werkself celebrated an offensive festival at the BayArena. It was fun to watch and for me the second best performance this season next to the game against Dortmund.
However Wolfsburg with it’s usual crazy summer transfer activities is at this moment of the season, not a real test of strength. The same goes for Genk last Wednesday.
The next games against Mönchengladbach, Valencia and Schalke will surely allow us to judge better.
Line-up: Leverkusen (bottom) vs Wolfsburg (top)
67 min. Rolfes for L. Bender
72 min. Schwaab for Derdiyok
88 min. M. Friedrich for Ballack
46 min. Hasebe for Jönsson
46 min. Helmes for Lakic
69 min. Koo for Josué
Yellow Cards: Derdiyok (Leverkusen); Josué and Russ (both Wolfsburg)
1:0 Castro (14 min.)
1:1 Mandzukic (59 min.)
2:1 Derdiyok (65 min.)
3:1 Kießling (85 min.)
Statistics Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg
Posession: 52 % vs 48 %
Shots: 19 vs 8
Fouls: 16 vs 22
Corners: 6 vs 4
Offsides: 5 vs 4
Distance covered (km): 118 vs 111
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Leno has replaced Adler not only in the line-up
Stupid rule: Derdiyok receives yellow for taking his shirt off celebrating the bicycle kick goal
Cheer up Reinartz! You played some unusual good long balls
More photos @ 1904-online.de
Loved Gonzalo Castro in midfield, that’s where he really belongs in my opinion. Ballack has clearly an upwards trend, the big question is: When will he play an entire match? And score his first Bundesliga goal since the transfer back to Bayer 04? Will it happen before the winter-break?
Why is Derdiyok focused more on quality than quantity of goals? Goals against Bremen/Schalke in low-scoring 2010/11 for example.