Sardar Azmoun, Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby help Bayer Leverkusen see off Hertha Berlin
Sardar Azmoun, Jeremie Frimpong, Moussa Diaby and Amine Adli were all on target as Bayer Leverkusen kept their bid for European football alive with a dominant 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday.
Leverkusen 4-1 Hertha
Goals: 1-0 Azmoun 12' (assist: Frimpong), 2-0 Frimpong 21' (assist: Diaby), 3-0 Diaby 60' (assist: Wirtz), 3-1 Lukebakio (pen. 67'), 4-1 Adli 73' (assist: Schick)
Hosts Leverkusen started the day a full 10 points outside the top six and in need of victory over a Hertha side firmly involved in a relegation battle if Die Werkself were to get their hopes of European qualification back on track. And Xabi Alonso's team started the brightest, culminating in the lightning-quick double act of Frimpong and Diaby combining before the former teed up Azmoun to give Leverkusen the lead from close range. Leverkusen's No.9 almost doubled his tally moments later but saw his shot turned over the bar by Oliver Christensen. Bayer's pressure soon told once more, though, as Diaby this time raced down the right and cut back for Frimpong to turn home in almost carbon copy fashion as Azmoun's opener. Frimpong was a menace from the start but lasted less than half an hour, with the Dutch wing-back forced off through injury.
The bulk of the work required to collect all three points had already been done by the time Leverkusen set out at the start of the second half looking to see out the job. The almost had a third 10 minutes after the break but Christensen was down well to deny Diaby's testing long range effort. The Hertha goalkeeper made another crucial save on the hour mark - denying Piero Hincapie with his feet. Diaby then hit the bar from the resulting corner and within minutes the damn broke for a third time. This time Florian Wirtz was the architect with a sumptuous reverse pass that freed Diaby in the box for the Frenchman to fire between Christensen's legs and into the back of the net. Dodi Lukebakio did pull one back from the penalty spot but it was only ever going to be a consolation, especially once Amine Adli had lashed home a fourth from Patrik Schick's through ball.
- Azmoun had scored just one Bundesliga goal going into Matchday 22 - he now has three after finding the back of the net in successive German top-flight matches for the first time in his career.
- Leverkusen have not lost in the Bundesliga this season when Diaby has scored (W6, D1).
- Lukas Hradecky, formerly of Eintracht Frankfurt, made his 250th Bundesliga appearance. He has kept 67 clean sheets, whilst shipping 336 goals.
- Victory for Leverkusen is their first at home since beating Bochum 2-0 on Matchday 17 and puts a stop to their sequence of two defeats in succession at the BayArena.
- This season, only Bochum (three) have fewer away points than Hertha (four), who lost on the road for a seventh time in a row.
- Lukebakio's first ever goal at the BayArena saw him equal his personal best single-season Bundesliga tally of 10 (2018/19, with Fortuna Düsseldorf).
Get Azmoun for your Fantasy team for 10.3M!
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Tapsoba, Tah, Kossounou - Frimpong (Fosu-Mensah 29'), Andrich, Palacios, Hincapie (Sinkgraven 82') - Wirtz (Amiri 82') - Diaby (Adli 69'), Azmoun (Schick 69')
Unused subs: Pentz, Demirbay, Hudson-Odoi, Hlozek
Out: Aranguiz (calf), Lunev (back)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
Hertha: Christensen – Rogel, Uremovic, Kempf - Richter (Sunjic 84'), Tousart, Cigerci, Serdar (Boetius 58'), Plattenhardt (c) - Lukebakio (Kenny 83'), Niederlechner (Jovetic 58')
Unused subs: Ernst, Mittelstädt, Dardai, Boateng, Ngankam
Out: Ejuke (knee), Jarstein (not considered), Nsona (knee), Kanga (toe)
Coach: Sandro Schwarz
Bundesliga title race: form check
Bayern and BVB are battling it out at the top, with Union, Leipzig and Freiburg still in pursuit...
Top 10 Bundesliga wins vs. English clubs
Bayern have done it numerous times, while Leipzig are looking to secure a famous triumph over Manchester City for the latest Bundesliga win over an English team.
German clubs in Europe in 2022/23
There are four Bundesliga clubs in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, plus another three in Europa League contention.