Bayer Leverkusen maintained their impressive Bundesliga winning run and strengthened their grasp on third place after goals from from Moussa Diaby, Amine Adli, Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick helped the hosts see off a stubborn VfB Stuttgart.
Leverkusen 4-2 Stuttgart
Goals: 1-0 Diaby (41'), 1-1 Tomas 49' (assist: Mangala), 2-1 Adli 52' (assist: Demirbay), 3-1 Wirtz 86' (assist: Frimpong), 3-2 Tomas 88', 4-2 Schick 90' (assist: Wirtz)
Form wise, both of these teams could not have gone into this Matchday 22 meeting with a more contrasting record. Stuttgart were winless in six, losing five, while their swashbuckling opponents had previously taken Borussia Dortmund to task as part of a three-game winning streak that saw them register 12 goals. No surprise, then, that Gerardo Seoane's third-placed hosts set the early pace at the BayArena. The division's second-highest scorer this season, Schick, menaced from the off and almost broke the deadlock when clipping the outside of a post on the quarter hour. Pellegrino Matarazzo's team may have arrived here as one of the division's lowest scorers, but they were a whisker away from an opener when Tiago Tomas's effort deflected up onto the crossbar. Heeding that warning, Die Werkself fashioned a lead not long before the break. Spinning brilliantly towards the target from outside of the area, man-in-form, Diaby, danced his way goalwards before smartly tucking away his 10th Bundesliga goal of the season at the second attempt.
A win by Greuther Fürth earlier in the day had increased the pressure on Stuttgart, who were just five points better off than the Bundesliga's basement side ahead of their game against Bayer. The relief from the away side when Tomas rounded off a superb move to draw the teams level shortly after the restart was thus palpable. Not that their satisfaction lasted long, however. Moments later, Kerem Demirbay's accurate delivery from a free-kick was exquisitely headed in at the far post by Adli to restore the home team's lead. In new territory having scored a record amount of goals at this stage of a Bundesliga season, Leverkusen went in search of more. Wirtz and Diaby combined brilliantly to almost increase their team's lead. Soon afterwards, Wirtz was there again with greater effect, sliding home from Charles Aranguiz's pass. Tomas then scrambled in a late second to raise some question marks, but the visitors' hopes were well and truly extinguished when Schick ended his two-game goalless streak with a straightforward finish from close range.
- Diaby's 10th goal of 2021/22 means he now scored more times this season than in his first two Bundesliga campaigns combined (9).
- Diaby has scored in three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time in his career.
- Leverkusen have scored 58 goals after 22 games, a new club record. Their previous best at this stage of a season was 51 (in 2001/02).
- Tomas is the 268th different goalscorer for Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, bringing Die Schwaben level with the record holders in this category, Eintracht Frankfurt and Schalke.
- Schick (19) and Diaby (10) combined have scored more goals this season than the entire Stuttgart squad (24).
- Leverkusen are the Bundesliga’s form side of 2022 with 13 points from five games.
Watch: Wirtz: “I’m happy to help the team”
Leverkusen: Hradecky (c) - Frimpong, Tapsoba, Hincapie, Bakker - Andrich (Palacios 70'), Demirbay (Aránguiz 70') - Diaby, Wirtz, Adli (Paulinho 74') - Schick
Unused Subs: Grill, Lomb, Alario, Sinkgraven, Fosu-Mensah, Bellarabi
Out: Azmoun (knee), Baumgartlinger (knee), Lunev (ankle), Palacios (back), Tah (illness)
Coach: Gerardo Seoane
Stuttgart: Müller – Stenzel (Klimowicz 84'), Mavropanos, Ito – Karazor – Silas (Tibidi 59'), Endo (c) (Coulibaly 71'), Mangala, Sosa – Führich, Tomas
Unused subs: Bredlow, Didavi, Thommy, Förster, Ahamada, Beyaz
Out: Anton (not included), Egloff (match fitness), Kalajdzic (calf), Massimo (illness), Marmoush (not included), Nartey (knee), Sankoh (knee)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo
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