Victor Boniface scored his third and fourth Bundesliga goals as Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen maintained their perfect start to the season - and moved top for the time being - with a 5-1 win over Darmstadt at the BayArena on Saturday.
Leverkusen 5-1 Darmstadt
Goals: 1-0 Boniface 21' (assist: Frimpong), 1-1 Vilhelmsson 25' (assist: Klarer), 2-1 Palacios 49' (assist: Frimpong), 3-1 Boniface 61' (assist: Wirtz), 4-1 Hofmann 67' (assist: Boniface), 5-1 Hlozek 83' (assist: Mbamba)
Having already accounted for RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach, Leverkusen were looking to keep the good times rolling as they entertained a Darmstadt side that had, by comparison, lost each of their opening two league fixtures. Die Werkself coach Xabi Alonso once again named an unchanged side and saw his team make a bright start to proceedings and they were soon in front thanks to red-hot Boniface's sublime solo goal. The lead lasted only four minutes, though, as 19-year-old striker Oscar Vilhelmsson headed home from close range after a well worked free-kick. Leverkusen remained in the ascendency for the remainder of the half, but it was Darmstadt who actually came closest to taking a lead into the break; an outstretched Luca Pfeiffer just unable to reach Matthias Bader's cross from the right.
After the turnaround, Leverkusen quickly settled into their stride once more and assumed control, with their pressure soon telling. Jeremie Frimpong was the architect on the right, with his cut-back finding Exequiel Palacios on the edge of the area for the Argentine to sneak a finish home via two Darmstadt deflections in a crowded penalty area. Boniface had his second, and Leverkusen's third on the hour, latching on to a Florian Wirtz through-ball and firing home across goal on his left foot. The Nigerian striker turned provider soon after, laying off for Jonas Hofmann to send an arrowed effort into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box. Substitute Adam Hlozek added a fifth late on and that was more than enough to seal three points for Alonso's in-form outfit, who now have three wins out of three from their perfect start to the season. Darmstadt, meanwhile, are rock-bottom and remain without a point.
Watch: Victor Boniface credits Xabi Alonso
- Boniface has now scored six goals in four appearances in all competitions since joining Leverkusen this summer. He has four in three in the Bundesliga, all of which have been scored across his last two outings.
- This is just the third time Bayer won their first three Bundesliga fixutes, having done so previously in 2003/04 and 2013/14.
- Leverkusen have scored at least three goals in each of their three games so far this season and their 11-goal return - as of the final whistle at the ByayArena - is a joint league-high shared with VfB Stuttgart.
- Leverkusen have won six of their seven Bundesliga encounters with Darmstadt, as well as seven of their last nine against promoted teams, scoring 28 goals.
- On as a 58th-minute substitute, Tim Skarke made his second debut for Darmstadt and 82nd appearance in total for the club.
- Darmstadt have lost 17 of their last 19 away games in the Bundesliga.
Watch: Granit Xhaka on Leverkusen's perfect start
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Kossounou, Tah (Stanisic 72'), Tapsoba - Frimpong (Tella 72'), Palacios (Andrich 65'), Xhaka (Mbamba 80'), Grimaldo - Hofmann, Wirtz (Hlozek 80') - Boniface
Unused subs: Kovar, Arthur, Amiri, Puerta
Out: Adli (suspended), Fosu-Mensah (knee), Hincapie (metatarsal), Schick (groin)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
Darmstadt: Schuhen - Klarer, Zimmermann (Maglica 69'), Isherwood (Stojilkovic 58') - Bader, Mehlem (Kempe 69'), Franjic, Holland (c), Nürnberger (Karic 26') - Vilhelmsson (Skarke 58'), Pfeiffer
Unused subs: Behrens, Riedel, Schnellhardt, Gjasula
Out: Brunst (shoulder), Honsak (muscular), Hornby (thigh)
Coach: Torsten Lieberknecht
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