Vienna - Bayer 04 Leverkusen took a huge step towards the knock-out stages of the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League competition by collecting a comfortable 4-0 win at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion against Rapid Vienna.

The German visitors looked focused from the start, yet failed to get anywhere near Vienna's goal until Philipp Wollscheid gave them the lead. A brace from Gonzalo Castro and Karim Bellarabi's close-range finish sealed the victory for Sami Hyypia's side, who are still level with Metalist Kharkiv at the top of Group K.

Schürrle's wake-up call


Leverkusen dictated the early exchanges, yet found it difficult unlocking Rapid's defence as their execution in the final third left a lot to be desired. The game sparked into life after Andre Schürrle's long-range free-kick went wide before Kießling burst between two Vienna defenders only to steer his shot past the near post.

Bayer smelt blood as Bender's left-footed curler flew over before Schürrle poor first touch, alone in front of goal, wasted the Rhineland side's best opportunity. Rapid were eventually punished for their defensive approach though, as Schürrle's long-range attempt was only cleared at the expense of a corner, which Philipp Wollscheid met with a firm header to break the deadlock.

Bayer bullish


The home team appeared to throw bodies forward just after the interval, when Gerson squandered a close-range effort, volleying into the stands from a whipped free-kick. However, the guests were caught cold shortly after when Castro slotted the ball through Königshofer's legs following a beautiful one-two with Bender that left Rapid's defence exposed.

Bellarabi's made it three two minutes later to decide the encounter, as the attacking midfielder left Königshofer with no chance from five yards after Schürrle's skilful individual effort had been saved. Vienna substitute Terrence Boyd was the first to seriously test Bernd Leno, but failed to get the better of Bayer's No1 on three ocassions. At the other end, Manuel Friedrich's header and Bender's effort from the edge of the box could have made it four, but it was Castro who did the deed by putting the finishing touches on Junior Fernandez's cross and the convicing performance.

Line-ups::

Rapid Vienna: Königshofer - Trimmel , Sonnleitner , Gerson , Katzer - Kulovits , Heikkinen (Boyd 46') - Prager, Ildiz (Schimpelsberger 63'), Drazan - Alar (Schrammel 77')

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno - Schwaab, Wollscheid, M. Friedrich, Kadlec (L. Bender 10') - Hosogai, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Castro, Schürrle (Hegeler 61') - Kießling (Junior Fernandes 70')

Goals: 0-1 Wollscheid (37'), 0-2 Castro (56'), 0-3 Bellarabi (59'), 0-4 Castro (90')