Summary

  • Two early goals from Leverkusen paved the way for the win.
  • The home side are now guaranteed a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage next term.
  • Hertha also certain to have European football in 2016/17.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen booked their place in next season's UEFA Champions League group stage thanks to a 2-1 victory at home to fellow European rivals Hertha Berlin on Saturday evening.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-1 Hertha Berlin

Goals: 1-0 Brandt (2'), 2-0 Bender (16'), 1-2 Ibisevic (21')

Aware of the stakes going into this match, Leverkusen began with the confidence gleaned from winning their previous six league outings. Coach Roger Schmidt could not have hoped for a better start, with Julian Brandt drilling in after just two minutes. The hosts doubled their advantage shortly afterwards when Hertha failed to clear a free-kick, allowing captain Lars Bender to pounce from close range. The visitors gave themselves a foothold in the game, however, when Vedad Ibisevic headed in superbly from Peter Pekarik's cross.

Hertha pushed forward after the break in search of an equaliser and they might have found one with more accurate finishing. Leverkusen were not content just to protect their lead, though, and twice went close to adding a third goal through Karim Bellarabi, only for Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein to deny him each time. In the end, neither side could find the target again, allowing Die Werkself to record another victory and seal third place.

Julian Brandt (l.) scored in a sixth successive game to put Die Werkself ahead against Hertha.

Man of the match

Leverkusen played with a completely new back four owing to a number of injuries, but Christoph Kramer – normally a central midfielder – was outstanding at centre-back. The 2014 World Cup winner won a huge 77 per cent of his tackles and was a calming presence throughout.

Talking point

Leverkusen have now won seven consecutive games, making them the most in-form side in the league.

Match stats

  • Brandt extended his scoring streak to six consecutive Bundesliga matches.
  • His strike was the fastest goal Leverkusen have scored since Bellarabi's record-breaking goal after nine seconds against Borussia Dortmund on 23 August 2014.
  • In light of the results earlier on Saturday, Hertha are guaranteed to finish no lower seventh, meaning they will qualify for the UEFA Europa League play-offs at least.
  • Bender scored his first goal of the season here.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez was again excellent in attack and was a handful for the Hertha defence throughout.

Line-ups

Leverkusen: Leno – Bender (c), Ramalho, Kramer, Henrichs – Kampl, Aranguiz – Bellarabi, Calhanoglu (Kruse 90+1'), Brandt (Kießling 74') – Chicharito (Toprak 90')

Coach: Roger Schmidt

Hertha: Jarstein – Pekarik, Langkamp, Lustenberger (c), Plattenhardt – Weiser, Stark, Skjelbred (Baumjohann 77'), Cigerci – Ibisevic, Kalou (Haraguchi 56')

Coach: Pal Dardai