Kai Havertz netted his second brace of the season as Bayer Leverkusen overpowered Hertha Berlin to make it back-to-back wins in the Bundesliga and move into the top half of the table.
Goals: 1-0 Volland (6'), 2-0 Havertz (23'), 2-1 Torunarigha (26'), 3-1 Havertz (49')
Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich left top scorer Kevin Volland on the bench for most of the midweek win in Schalke, but he returned to the starting line-up with almost immediate impact, giving the hosts the lead on just six minutes. Leon Bailey sprayed the ball right for Havertz and he cut across for Charles Aranguiz, who took a lovely touch before teeing Volland up for his sixth of the season. Leverkusen then doubled their advantage after a nightmare moment for Hertha keeper Rune Jarstein, who saw a backpass from Jordan Torunarigha bobble up and bounce off him into Havertz's path – the Germany international didn't get a clean connection, but the ball still tricked over the line for 2-0. Torunarigha extended his contract with Hertha this week and got the chance to celebrate a few minutes later, volleying in from close range after Volland's attempted clearance was headed back in by Fabian Lustenberger. Despite a flurry of chances at both ends before half-time – with Vladimir Darida, Ondrej Duda and Julian Brandt all going close – the scoreline remained 2-1 heading into the break.
Having already struck early in the first half, Leverkusen only needed four minutes of the second period to restore their two-goal cushion. Aranguiz was given plenty of time and space to tease a lovely ball over the top for Havertz, and the 19-year-old lobbed it nonchalantly over the onrushing Jarstein to get the BayArena faithful back on their feet. The hosts were content to sit back and let Hertha do the running after that, although they still carved out chances on the counter-attack, with Bailey firing just over and Brandt putting one wide of the post. The hosts looked likelier to get a fourth than their visitors did to get a second, and Aranguiz almost capped a superb performance with a goal to go with his two assists, only for Lustenburger to clear the Chilean's effort off the line. Lukas Hradecky also came up with a fine save to deny Davie Selke, but there were to be no further goals as Leverkusen rounded out the calendar year in style, moving into the top half of the table for the first time this season.
- Leverkusen have now won eight of their last 11 Bundesliga clashes with Hertha.
- Havertz netted his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign. At the halfway point of 2018/19, he has already bested his single-season tally in the Bundesliga.
- The Germany international scored his third Bundesliga brace; his second of the current season and his first at the BayArena.
- Despite being just 19, Havertz is the only Leverkusen player to have started all 17 Bundesliga games in the Hinrunde.
- Volland scored his 26th goal for Leverkusen, drawing level with current Bayer sporting director and Germany legend Rudi Völler. He has opened the scoring on four occasions this season, more than any other Bundesliga player.
- No Hertha match in Leverkusen has ended goalless, and the Old Lady have only failed to score on one of their 23 visits.
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser, Tah (S. Bender 85'), Dragovic, Jedvaj – Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger (c) – Brandt (Bellarabi 76'), Havertz, Bailey – Volland (Alario 72')
Unused subs: Özcan, Kiese Thelin, Wendell, Kohr
Out: Retsos (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), L. Bender (thigh)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Hertha: Jarstein – Lazaro, Lustenberger (c), Torunarigha, Plattenhardt – Maier – Darida (Ibisevic 75'), Duda, Mittelstädt (Köpke 70') – Leckie (Pekarik 54'), Selke
Unused subs: Kraft, Dardai, Baak, Jastrzembski
Out: Dilrosun (thigh), Grujic (ankle), Kalou (foot), Klünter (thigh), Rekik (thigh), Stark (foot), Skjelbred (tooth)
Coach: Pal Dardai