Kai Havertz set another Bundesliga milestone as he found the net in Leverkusen's 3-1 Rhine derby win over Cologne on Wednesday to ease his club back into the UEFA Champions League qualifying places.
Being knocked out of the top four as a consequence of Borussia Mönchengladbach's win over Wolfsburg 24 hours earlier was clearly not to Leverkusen's liking, and when Sven Bender deftly turned in a Leon Bailey corner - Leverkusen's fifth of the opening stages - it brought a richly deserved lead. Moussa Diaby was denied by Timo Horn after wriggling through a porous visiting backline with Cologne in danger of taking on more water than the rain-drenched BayArena pitch. Diaby's pace and inventiveness down the left were a permanent source of concern for Cologne, whose worries should have had even more solid foundations when the ex-Paris Saint-Germain youngster picked out Havertz on the edge of the box. The Germany international skewed an ugly shot wide, but was sure-footed shortly afterwards to steer home a Bailey cutback and double Leverkusen's advantage.
Toothless in the opening 45 minutes, the Billy Goats found some bite to get back into the game after the break. An unmarked Jhon Cordoba headed wide just before Sebastiaan Bornauw rose to nod in a corner and give Cologne hope. It was in vain, however, as Leverkusen saw out the game in relative comfort. Havertz might have made the closing stages still more relaxing for Peter Bosz's men, but sent a close-range bicycle kick over the bar while Wendell produced the same disappointing outcome with a well-placed free-kick. Instead, Havertz exchanged passes smartly with Diaby, who raced forward and fired under Horn from a tight angle to leave Leverkusen's European destiny in their own hands.
- Leverkusen have scored at least once in all 21 of their competitive matches in 2020, and have netted 103 in 49 top-flight games under Bosz at a clip of more than two goals every game.
- Havertz has scored seven times in his last seven league appearances, and now has 12 for the campaign. He got 17 last season.
- Havertz, who turned 21 on 11 June, has now scored 36 Bundesliga goals. He is the youngest player to have reached that tally, wiping Dieter Müller from the record books.
- Bornauw's goal was Cologne's 15th headed strike of the season, a joint-league-high with Eintracht Frankfurt.
- Bayer have picked up more points in 15 Rückrunde matches (32) than the entire first half of the season (28).
- Cologne and Leverkusen are on the longest scoring runs of all current Bundesliga teams, hitting the back of the net at least once in 18 and 16 successive matches respectively.
- It's been more than 10 years since Leverkusen last failed to score against Cologne at the BayArena, the sides drawing 0-0 in February 2010. Toni Kroos and Arturo Vidal were in Leverkusen's midfield that day.
Watch: Tah: "It's in our hands"
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Dragovic, S. Bender (Tah 33'), Tapsoba, Wendell - Aranguiz (Demirbay 86'), Baumgartlinger - Diaby, Havertz (Amiri 86'), Bailey (Wirtz 64') - Volland (c) (Paulinho 64')
Unused subs: Özcan, Sinkgraven, Weiser, Palacios
Out: Alario (suspended), Bellarabi (thigh), L. Bender (foot)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Cologne: Horn (c) - Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos (Leistner 56'), Katterbach - Drexler, Skhiri (Höger 56'), Rexhbecaj (Kainz 78'), Thielmann (Uth 78') - Modeste, Cordoba
Unused subs: Kessler, Schmitz, Schindler, Hector, Lemperle
Out: Hauptmann (groin), Risse (knee), Jakobs (muscular), Terodde (knee)
Coach: Markus Gisdol