Lucas Alario grabbed his third and fourth goals of the Bundesliga season as in-form Bayer Leverkusen edged Schalke on Saturday evening, claiming their fifth win in six games in all competitions.
No doubt buoyed by last weekend's 2-1 victory over champions Bayern Munich, Leverkusen made a lively start at the BayArena, with Karim Bellarabi blasting high and wide after a delightful chip over the top from Kai Havertz. Leon Bailey, who grabbed a brace in Munich, then got his first assist of the season as his well-taken corner was headed in by Alario. Schalke keeper Alexander Nübel had rather flapped at that delivery, but made amends a few minutes later to keep out Bellarabi from a tight angle. Leverkusen continued to probe, with Bailey seeing a second goal correctly ruled out for offside after more good work from Havertz. The visitors only had one real of chance of note when Suat Serdar slipped through to Benito Raman, but Lukas Hradecky scrambled off his line to block the Belgian's effort. The hosts were quickly back on top, with Havertz trying his luck from distance and Alario failing to find a way past Nübel following a delightful backheel from Charles Aranguiz. Bellarabi fired over again shortly afterwards, with Schalke no doubt relieved to only be going in a goal down at the break.
Leverkusen continued to apply pressure at the start of the second half, with Julian Baumgartlinger heading just over after a series of Bailey corners. Schalke then thought they had the equaliser through Raman, but his goal, like Bailey's, was chalked off for offside. The Royal Blues showed flashes of inspiration, and Amine Harit should have done better after a brilliant delivery in from the right; but instead of heading on target, he squared for Raman, who got the ball tangled up in his feet as he attempted to slip it past Hradecky. Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz threw on Moussa Diaby and Nadiem Amiri, who both tested Nübel, but it was Alario who struck again for the hosts' second goal, stabbing home after a brilliant one-two between Aranguiz and Amiri. Barely a minute later, Schalke got one back after Harit's defence-splitting pass allowed Ahmed Kutucu to tee up Raman. Ozan Kabak denied Amiri with a brilliant last-ditch tackle in a furious finale, but Leverkusen held on to join Schalke on 25 points and push champions Bayern down to seventh place in the table.
- Alario scored Leverkusen's first headed goal of the season, not including a Florian Niederlechner own goal in the 3-0 win at Augsburg.
- The Argentine has netted all five of his goals this term – four in the league and one in the DFB Cup – at the BayArena. His second was Leverkusen's 100th under Bosz in the Bundesliga.
- Raman has scored in three consecutive Bundesliga matches for the first time in his career.
- Leverkusen have won all six of their Bundesliga games this season in which they have led at half-time.
- Bayer are now unbeaten in six matches, winning five and drawing the other in a run which includes fixtures with Bayern and Atletico Madrid.
- Schalke were unbeaten in six competitive fixtures before this reverse.
- This is the first time the home team has won this fixture in 10 meetings, since Leverkusen triumphed 1-0 at the BayArena in October 2014.
Watch: Alario: "We fought until the very end"
Leverkusen: Hradecky – L. Bender (c), Dragovic, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz – Bellarabi (Volland 79'), Havertz (Amiri 71'), Bailey (Diaby 60') – Alario
Unused subs: Özcan, Retsos, Demirbay, Sinkgraven, Stanilewicz, Paulinho
Out: Pohjanpalo (ankle), Tah (suspended), Weiser (ankle)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Schalke: Nübel (c) – Kenny (Uth 87'), Kabak, McKennie, Oczipka – Mascarell, Serdar – Caligiuri (Matondo 78'), Harit, Raman - Burgstaller (Kutucu 70')
Unused subs: Schubert, Miranda, Becker, Mercan, Reese, Skrzybski
Out: Bentaleb (knock), Boujellab (calf), Nastasic (knee), Sane (knee), Schöpf (thigh), Stambouli (metatarsal)
Coach: David Wagner