Bayer Leverkusen outwit Eintracht Frankfurt to go sixth in the table
Storming their way up the standings with the pace of an express train, Bayer Leverkusen produced one more counter-attacking masterclass to see off Eintracht Frankfurt at the BayArena, Amine Adli, Moussa Diaby and Sardar Azmoun on the scoresheet for the hosts.
Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Goals: 1-0 Adli 10' (assist: Wirtz), 2-0 Diaby 34' (assist: Wirtz), 2-1 Sow 75' (assist: Max), 3-1 Azmoun 90'+5
Die Werkself were way down in 17th spot when Xabi Alonso took up the reins last October. A stunning reversal under the Spaniard's guise since then saw the team rise to seventh ahead of this match, with Eintracht's place just above their hosts under threat against an in-form Bayer. Going in search of a fifth consecutive Bundesliga win, Leverkusen hit the front early on. Progressing in leaps and bounds since his return from a serious knee injury, Florian Wirtz set Adli on his way in the 10th minute and the 22-year-old left Evan Ndicka and Kristijan Jakic for dead on a superb run that ended with a delightfully flicked finish high past Kevin Trapp. Eintracht enjoyed a midweek lift with a DFB Cup quarter-final triumph against Union Berlin. They were largely second best in the opening half here, however, and Die Adler's hopes of arresting a five-game winless sequence in the Bundesliga looked doomed once Diaby fired under Trapp for 2-0 following one more Wirtz assist.
Eintracht's goalkeeper kept his team in touch with a tremendous diving save from Adli prior to the break, while shortly after the restart, the custodian was there again to block from Diaby. The French attacker then fed Jeremie Frimpong with a seeking ball towards the far post, but Leverkusen's No.30 just failed to connect properly with the goal at his mercy. In danger of losing for a ninth straight time in Leverkusen's backyard, Eintracht produced a response. Philipp Max escaped down the left and when his menacing cross reached Djibril Sow, the midfielder calmly took a touch before burying an unstoppable shot past former Frankfurt custodian Lukas Hradecky. Try as they might, however, Oliver Glasner's men couldn't build on that goal and when Azmoun pounced on a late defensive error to score his fourth goal in five Bundesliga games, Leverkusen were home free.
- Wirtz joins teammates Diaby and Frimpong on six assists for the campaign.
- Adli now has three goals this season, equalling a personal best for a Bundesliga campaign.
- Leverkusen have scored from nine counter-attacks this term, more than any other team has managed.
- Diaby has had a direct hand in 14 Bundesliga goals since Alonso took charge of Leverkusen (nine goals, five assists). Only Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani has been involved in more during this period (15) - and indeed across the campaign (22).
- Leverkusen were provisionally four points adrift of fourth. Since the introduction of the three-points-for-a-win rule, two teams have previously made up a deficit this big so late in a season to finish in the top four: Dortmund in 2020/21 and Bayer themselves in 2018/19.
- Frankfurt are without a win in their last eight Bundesliga away games (D4, L4) - their longest wait since February-May 2018 under Niko Kovac.
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Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba - Frimpong (Bakker 71'), Palacios, Andrich, Hincapie (Fosu-Mensah 88') - Diaby, Wirtz (Sinkgraven 79') - Adli (Azmoun 70')
Unused subs: Pentz, Mbamba, Azhil, Hudson-Odoi, Bellarabi
Out: Amiri (muscular), Lunev (back), Schick (groin)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
Frankfurt: Trapp - Jakic, Hasebe (Tuta 64'), Ndicka - Buta (Knauff 46'), Rode (c) (Dina Ebimbe 64'), Sow, Max - Borre (Kamada 64'), Götze (Alario 82') - Kolo Muani
Unused subs: Ramaj, Lenz, Chandler, Aaronson
Out: Lindstrom (ankle), Smolcic (knee), Toure (thigh)
Coach: Oliver Glasner
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