WATCH: WIRTZ: “I’M HAPPY TO HELP THE TEAM”
FULL-TIME! LEVERKUSEN 4-2 STUTTGART
Leverkusen score four or more goals for the third straight game, recording a fourth win in a row. They climb to within two points of second place. Stuttgart stay second bottom, four points from safety.
TIME ADDED ON
Four minutes left for Leverkusen to add to their lead. Fosu-Mensah and Alario are on for the hosts.
Stuttgart concede again soon after scoring themselves. Diaby and Paulinho are involved in the build-up, the latter threading a pass into the box for Wirtz. He simply shifts it across the six-yard box, where the unmarked Schick tucks away his 19th Bundesliga goal of the campaign.
TIAGO AT THE DOUBLE!
Stuttgart arwe not down yet! Diaby's pass is picked off in the Bayer half. VfB work it patiently, with Tibidi striking the inside of the post and Tiago turning in the rebound.
WIRTZ MAKES IT 3-1!
Game over for Stuttgart. Palacios helps Frimpong's low cross into the path of Wirtz, who strokes through the legs of a Stuttgart defender and into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. That's the 18-year-old's seventh Bundesliga goal of the campaign.
Overzealous from Bakker after Leverkusen fail to deal with a Sosa free-kick. Führich sends in the next effort, but Schick is back defending. Ito then sends the loose ball into row M.
Diaby drives into the VfB box, cutting a ball back to the penalty spot. It's behind Schick, but Paulinho collects and feeds Palacios, who blazes over from 18 yards. Leverkusen looking the most likely to add to their lead in the closing stages.
Almost a very special Leverkusen goal. Diaby lays the ball off to Wirtz on the edge of the area, and continues his run. The return pass is an audacious chipped effort, which Diaby volleys straight at Müller.
Adli's last involvement is to win a corner. Wirtz sends it in, but Müller makes the catch. Paulinho's on for Leverkusen.
Fresh legs in the Leverkusen midfield as Palacios and Aranguiz enter the fray. Stuttgart general Endo - who's on a booking - makes way soon after, in favour of the more attack-minded Coulibaly.
After catching Mangala on the follow-through, Andrich is booked for a foul on Karazor. No malice in either challenge.
A WHISKER AWAY
Leverkusen play keep-ball on the edge of the Stuttgart area. Bakker helps it into the path of Demirbay, who lifts a delicate effort narrowly wide of the far post. Müller looked beaten.
Wirtz and Frimpong combine in the Stuttgart box. The cross from the byline is directed towards the unmarked Schick, but Mavropanos gets a block in. So close to a third Bayer goal.
ADLI HITS BACK!
Endo concedes a foul to the left of the Stuttgart area. Demirbay whips it in towards the penalty spot, where Adli runs across and glances a header past Müller. The perfect response from Leverkusen - they're ahead once more!
STUTTGART ARE LEVEL!
Dream start to the second half for Stuttgart. Wirtz's pass is picked off in the Stuttgart half as Karazor releases Führich. Mangala takes the ball in his stride, rolling Hincapie and playing in Tiago Tomas for an emphatic finish from inside the area, beyond Hradecky.
HALF-TIME! LEVERKUSEN 1-0 STUTTGART
Diaby's goal is the difference at the break, with Leverkusen deservedly ahead.
Demirbay catches the heels of Mangala on halfway, stopping a promising breakaway chance. The Bayer midfielder can have no complaints with the decision.
Demirbay swings over a corner from the left. Tapsoba connects, forcing Sosa into evasive action at the far post. Not sure it was going in - safety first.
Leverkusen get the breakthrough. Stuttgart think they've done enough to crowd out Diaby on the edge of the box, but as three go to ground to block his first effort the space opens up for him to sink the rebound. A fine finish under pressure from a man very much in form. That's his 10th Bundesliga goal of the season, and fifth in three games.
Mangala pops up again on the right-hand side of the Leverkusen defence. Führich is unmarked as he takes possession 14 yards out, but fires straight at Hradecky.
Superb from Andrich again to spot Adli's run in behind the Stuttgart defence. The Frenchman cuts it back for Wirtz, whose first-time hit is deflected wide. That was going in.
Leverkusen have the ball in the Stuttgart net, but it won't count. Wirtz was offside when he controlled Andrich's chipped pass into the area, before poking past Müller. Shame because that first touch was out of this world.
Stuttgart with a welcome reprieve as Mangala feeds Tomas in the box. The Sporting loanee takes aim, with his curling strike deflecting off Tapsoba and onto the crossbar.
DEFENDING IN NUMBERS
Diaby tries to wriggle through again, but Stuttgart have eight men behind the ball as he lays the ball off to Andrich, whose shot is blocked. There's a pattern developing...
The ball breaks away from Diaby on the edge of the Stuttgart area. Frimpong collects and pings over a cross that Mavropanos does well to head behind.
Führich is in for Stuttgart, but Frimpong gets a touch as he tries to go round Hradecky. VfB almost ahead out of nothing.
Diaby shows his individual class with a jinking run and pass through to Schick. The Bayer top scorer connects first time in the box, bending an effort against the outside of the upright.
Andrich and Bakker combine in and around the Stuttgart area. Schick rolls his marker, but his shot from a central position is blocked, and Sosa can head clear.
Andrich takes out the Stuttgart defence with a back-heel for Frimpong. He drives into the box and shoots over with the aid of a deflection. Hincapie can't direct his attempt from the ensuing corner on target. Bayer very much on top.
OVER FROM SCHICK
Wirtz twists and turns on the edge of the Stuttgart area. His cross for Diaby is only half cleared. Wirtz collects again and squares for Schick, who fires well over from 18 yards.
Führich leads the charge after Leverkusen lose out in midfield. He sends over a cross, but it's too close to Hradecky.
Stuttgart get the ball rolling, in desperate need of a positive result.
Leipzig's win yesterday means the gap to fourth place is just four points currently, so Leverkusen will be eager to continue their fine form with another victory that would move them to within two points of Dortmund in second. Survival is at stake for Stuttgart, who remain four points behind 16th-placed Augsburg.
WATCH: TIAGO TOMAS PITCH INSPECTION
TEAM NEWS - LEVERKUSEN
Edmond Tapsoba retunrs to the Leverkusen team after taking part at the Africa Cup of Nations. He comes in for Jonathan Tah, who is absent through illness. Amine Adli also comes in for Karim Bellarabi in attacking midfield.
TEAM NEWS - STUTTGART
With Sasa Kalajdzic and Omar Marmoush both absent, winter signing Tiago Tomas makes his starting debut for Stuttgart here. He's joined in the side by Atakan Karazor, who makes his first appearance in 2022. The presence of the latter, along with Endo and Mangala, suggests the visitors are going to begin somewhat defensively in a bid to stifle their hosts.
WATCH: STAGE SET AT THE BAYARENA
LEVERKUSEN STARTING XI
Hradecky (c) - Frimpong, Tapsoba, Hincapie, Bakker - Andrich, Demirbay - Diaby, Wirtz, Adli - Schick
Grill, Lomb, Paulinho, Alario, Aranguiz, Sinkgraven, Fosu-Mensah, Palacios, Bellarabi
STUTTGART STARTING LINE-UP
Müller – Stenzel, Mavropanos, Ito – Karazor – Silas, Endo (c), Mangala, Sosa – Führich, Tiago
Bredlow, Coulibaly, Didavi, Thommy, Förster, Klimowicz, Ahamada, Beyaz, Tibidi
Here you can find all the information about Leverkusen against Stuttgart on Matchday 22.