Bayer Leverkusen boosted their chances of playing in Europe next season as a comfortable win over relegation-threatened Nuremberg on Saturday moved them back into the top six.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Nuremberg
Goals: 1-0 Alario (61'), 2-0 Volland (86')
Leverkusen quickly took the game by the scruff of the neck, with some lovely interplay between their frontmen putting the Nuremberg defence under early pressure. Julian Baumgartlinger fired well over before visiting centre-back Ewerton came up with a brilliant last-ditch tackle to prevent Charles Aranguiz getting a shot away. Kai Havertz came closest to breaking the deadlock on 17 minutes, with a wicked curling effort that Christian Mathenia did well to parry onto the post. It remained one-way traffic, as Wendell dragged an effort wide and Leon Bailey showed fancy footwork before shooting straight at Mathenia. The Jamaican was then forced off with injury, and his replacement Lucas Alario tested Mathenia again on the stroke of half-time with a close-range header from Kevin Volland's cross.
Leverkusen continued to hammer on the door after the restart as Aranguiz was denied by more brave Nuremberg defending, this time a flying block from Patrick Erras. Mitchell Weiser then unleashed from distance, with Mathenia turning his attempt around the post for a corner. The hosts kept pouring forward in waves and their sustained pressure finally paid off on the hour mark, as Alario headed in a Julian Brandt corner – with goal-line technology confirming the ball had crossed the line before Tim Leibold could hook it clear. Mathenia produced a world-class save to keep out Havertz before Jonathan Tah headed wide from close range, but Die Werkself got their second goal late on through Volland, after brilliant work on the counter from Brandt and Alario.
- Alario scored his first Bundesliga header at the 41st attempt, moving onto four goals for the campaign.
- The Argentine has now netted three of Leverkusen's four goals by a substitute this season.
- Volland joined Havertz at the top of the Bayer scoring charts with his 13th goal of the campaign, his first against Nuremberg in six career meetings.
- Volland has now scored against all 18 current Bundesliga clubs.
- Leverkusen teenager Havertz is the youngest player to reach 13 goals in a Bundesliga season since Stuttgart's Horst Köppel in 1967/68.
- Nuremberg have taken just three points from a possible 45 on the road this season.
- Der Club have lost six of their last seven Bundesliga meetings with Bayer.
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger, Brandt (Paulinho 90') – Havertz (Kohr 87'), Volland (c), Bailey (Alario 34')
Unused subs: Özcan, Dragovic, L. Bender, Jedvaj
Out: Bellarabi (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (toe)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Nuremberg: Mathenia – Bauer, Mühl, Ewerton (Margreitter 79'), Leibold – Erras – Pereira, Löwen, Behrens (c), Kerk (Misidjan 62') - Ishak (Tillman 75')
Unused subs: Bredlow, Kubo, Petrak, Fuchs
Out: Knoll (ankle), Valentini (thigh), Zrelak (cruciate ligament)
Coach: Boris Schommers