Paulinho and Patrik Schick got the goals as Bayer Leverkusen beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 and tightened their grip on third place with two games to go.
With a UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg on their minds, Frankfurt made eight changes to their team, which appeared to have an effect, as losses of possession turned into Leverkusen’s best method of starting attacks. The first warning came on eight minutes as Moussa Diaby got onto the end of a long ball, tried to cut inside but was flagged offside. The breakthrough came 10 minutes later with the Frenchman this time sent clean through after a turnover inside his own half. His excellent outside-of-the-foot pass into the path of Paulinho was buried between the legs of Kevin Trapp to put Bayer ahead with the first effort of the game. Edmond Tapsoba volleyed a free-kick cross wide, Schick had the ball in the net with a thunderous finish, but neither shot counted with the pair offside. Robert Andrich fired wide after another counter-attack, while Frankfurt’s only shot of note was a simple save off Goncalo Paciencia from 20 yards.
Eintracht made three more changes at the break as Filip Kostic, Jens Petter Hauge and Tuta made way. They’d barely taken their seats in the dugout when Schick had the ball in the net again after burying Diaby’s perfectly weighted pass. The offside flag denied him for the second time, but VAR came to his rescue on this occasion to confirm he was onside and award the goal. Victory for Leverkusen gives them a three-point cushion over Freiburg – the team they host on the final day – in fourth. It’s four ahead of RB Leipzig in fifth after they were beaten at Borussia Mönchengladbach at the same time.
- Paulinho’s fourth goal of the campaign set a new personal best for him in the Bundesliga.
- Schick scored his 22nd goal of the league season. Only Stefan Kießling has ever got more in Leverkusen colours (25 in 2012/13).
- Diaby’s two assists took him to 11 for the campaign. Only Thomas Müller and Christopher Nkunku have more across the division.
- The Frenchman also followed compatriot Nkunku as the only players in the Bundesliga to have 10 or more goals and assists this season.
- Bayer took their season tally to 74 from 32 games. Their season record stands at 77.
- This fixture has still never ended goalless in 74 Bundesliga renditions. No other fixture has been played so many times without a 0-0 draw.
Watch: Schick: "Score goals and reach the Champions League"
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapie - Diaby (Sinkgraven 88’), Andrich, Aranguiz (Palacios 81’), Paulinho (Bakker 81’) - Azmoun (Baumgartlinger 86’), Schick (Alario 86’)
Unused subs: Grill, Lunev
Out: Adli (Achilles), Bellarabi (thigh), Demirbay (foot), Fosu-Mensah (thigh), Frimpong (ankle), Sertdemir (groin), Wirtz (knee)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
Frankfurt: Trapp - Tuta (Toure 46’), Hasebe (c), Ndicka - Chandler, Jakic, Hrustic, Kostic (Knauff 46’) - Hauge (Lammers 46’), Ache (Sow 73’) - Paciencia (Kamada 82’)
Unused subs: Grahl, Da Costa, Ilsanker, Barkok
Out: Borre (suspended), Durm (ill), Hinteregger (ill), Lenz (broken toe), Lindstrom (hamstring), Ramaj (knee), Rode (rested)
Coach: Oliver Glasner
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