Bayer Leverkusen beat Belgian champions Genk 2-0 at the BayArena in a sometimes nervy performance to go second in Champions League Group E behind Chelsea and leave Genk at the bottom of the table.
Lars Bender opened the scoring on half an hour, but Leverkusen laboured for long periods and only put the game to bed in the final minutes as substitute Michael Ballack scored with a deflected effort.
Genk had their chances, particularly through set pieces and can consider themselves unfortunate not to have grabbed a point.
The first half was dominated by Leverkusen, though there were brief pockets of Genk pressure, and it was they who created the first chance after a quarter of an hour. Leverkusen would struggle with set pieces all half and this was the first as Jeroen Simaeys headed over at the far post from the first corner of the match.
Andre Schurrle was involved in everything for Leverkusen and it was he a minute later who sliced a golden opportunity miles over the bar from 10 yards after being teed up by Sidney Sam.
Leverkusen looked to be running short on ideas until Bender grabbed the breakthrough. When Stefan Kiessling was tackled after trying to turn in the box, the ball fell to the young German, who hit a first time effort from a tight angle past the lunge of Laszlo Koteles and into the far corner.
A couple of efforts from the edge of the area went close for Leverkusen, the second a shot from Renato Augusto that was acrobatically palmed behind by Koteles. Genk had one further half chance following another corner to the far post, but it went the same way as the other, flying wide.
The second half was a bit of a timid affair until the excellent Schurrle almost scored what would have been a memorable solo effort. He jinked in and around four or five Genk challenges and found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot flew into the legs of Koteles and away to safety.
Genk created a wonderful opportunity to equalise with 13 minutes to go as Marvin Ogunjimi was presented with a free header with absolutely no one around him. He headed into the ground, taking some pace off the ball, but Bernd Leno still had to pull off an excellent save to tip it around the post.
It was nervy in the last 10 minutes until Ballack settled it. Anele Ngcongca’s header fell onto the chest of the German veteran and his early volley hit off the same man and flew into the far corner.
Reactions after the game
Robin Dutt: “It was an important victory for us. People talked before the match about how we needed to win, but if you come off a run of three defeats in a row nothing is guaranteed. I saw a good mentality from my team today, even though not everything worked out perfectly, of course. We sometimes lacked aggression and didn’t apply as much pressure as we should have, but that has something to do with the confidence level after the latest results. The victory nevertheless feels great.”
Michal Kadlec: “Of course we’re happy with the win, especially given that recent weeks have not been easy for us. However, you have to say that there is still a lot of room for improvement. The performance was a step in the right direction, but the win was the only thing that mattered. At the end we were trembling, but Bernd Leno parried the header wonderfully. With Michael Ballack’s goal in added time, we were finally able to relax. Lars [Bender] was really happy with his goal and I’ve already asked him where he got his left foot. It doesn’t really matter who scores, though, the main thing is to win in the Champions League.”
Lars Bender: “At Leverkusen, we’re not used to losing three successive games. We absolutely had to win this game and it’s taken a lot of pressure off us. I don’t know why Michal Kadlec said I don’t have a left foot – I don’t score often, but when I do it’s always with my left. For the goal, I didn’t think too much about it, I just hit it and it was a nice strike. It’s great to be named man of the match, but the win is more important”. Chelsea are the clear favourites in this group and we’re in competition with Valencia for second place. It was a good first step in the right direction and now we have to win at home against Valencia.”
65 min. Balitsch for Renato Augusto
80 min. Ballack for Kadlec
90. + 3 min. Derdiyok for Kießling
46 min. Barda for Vossen
69 min. Hyland for Nadson
78 min. Nwanganga for Hubert
Yellow Cards: Kadlec and Toprak (both Leverkusen); Nadson and Pudil (both Genk)
1:0 L. Bender (30 min.)
2:0 Ballack (90. + 2 min.)
Statistics Leverkusen vs Genk
Attempts on target: 5 vs 5
Attempts off target: 11 vs 4
Corners: 7 vs 9
Offsides: 3 vs 2
Fouls committed: 15 vs 18
Possession (%): 62 vs 38
Standings Group E
1 Chelsea FC 4 Points
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3 Points
3 Valencia CF 2 Points
4 KRC Genk 1 Point
Videos uploaded by third party with no link to Mundilev.tk. We assume no responsibility for it!
or here>> Videa.hu