A goal and an assist from Jonas Hofmann secured a 3-0 victory for Bayer Leverkusen over Cologne in the Rhine derby, a result which returns Xabi Alonso's side to the top of the Bundesliga table.
Leverkusen have been irresistible so far this campaign, and their 2-1 victory away at Molde in the UEFA Europa League meant they came into this encounter unbeaten in nine games in all competitions this term. It didn't take them long to test Marvin Schwäbe here as Florian Wirtz tried his luck from distance, and that effort set the tone for the majority of the first half. Victor Boniface, Jonathan Tah and Wirtz - again - all went close to breaking the deadlock before Hofmann eventually did in the 22nd minute, putting the finishing touch to a lightning-quick move. Shortly after the half-hour mark, Die Werkself were two the good, as Jeremie Frimpong arrived at the back post to dispatch Alejandro Grimaldo's pinpoint low cross. Despite struggling to contain their opponents, Cologne came with inches of halving the deficit on the brink of half-time, but Eric Martel was twice denied by Lukáš Hrádecký from close range.
After the interval, Alonso's charges continued to dominate, as Frimpong and Wirtz went close to further extending the advantage. In the end, Boniface was the man to bag the third, tapping home Hofmann's pass following another scintillating passage of play from Leverkusen. The Nigerian could have netted a brace later on as the hosts continued to push forward, but he placed his side-footed shot narrowly wide of Schwäbe's post. Any opponent would have had trouble keeping Leverkusen at bay on this form, and Steffen Baumgart and Co. will likely be relatively happy to have reduced them to just the three goals. Effzeh remain bottom of the table as a result, while Leverkusen go into the international break having provided further proof of why they must be taken seriously as Meisterschale contenders.
- Leverkusen have never previously scored as many as this season's 23 goals in the opening seven matches of a campaign.
- Hofmann's opener was his 50th career goal in the Bundesliga.
- Also, the Germany international has now scored in three consecutive matches amongst the country's elite for the first time.
- Boniface becomes just the fifth player to score seven goals in seven games at the start of a Bundesliga season.
- Cologne have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 15 top-flight encounters, the longest active run along with Mainz.
- Die Geißböcke are yet to win a game in the league this term, and have just one point to their name this term - at this point 12 months ago, they had 10.
Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba (Hincapié 71')- Frimpong (Tella 81'), Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo - Hofmann (Puerta 88), Wirtz (Adli 71') - Boniface (Hložek 81')
Unused subs: Kovář, Stanišić, Andrich, Amiri, Puerta,
Out: Arthur (thigh), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Schick (groin)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
Cologne: Schwäbe - Carstensen (Kilian 90'+1), Hübers, Chabot, Paqarada - Huseinbašić (Olesen 75'), Martel (Tigges 75') - Ljubičić, Kainz (c), Alidou (Finkgräfe 62') - Selke (Downs 90'+1)
Unused subs: Pentke, Heintz, Limnios, Adamyan
Out: Dietz (match fitness), Katterbach (knee), Maina (back), Schmitz (muscular), Thielmann (knee), Uth (thigh), Waldschmidt (ill)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Vote for November's Rookie of the Month!
Victor Boniface, Xavi Simons or Merlin Röhl - Who will you choose as November's Rookie of the Month? Vote now!
The Bundesliga top scorer race
Bayern's Harry Kane leads the likes of Guirassy, Openda and Sané in the race to be the Bundesliga's Torjägerkönig.
'Frimaldo': world-class wingers in disguise
With 20 goals and assists between them, wing-backs Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo are on fire for Bundesliga leaders Leverkusen this season...