Mitchell Weiser, Moussa Diaby, Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz all hit the target as top-of-the-table Bayer Leverkusen turned on the style to beat local rivals Cologne.
Having climbed to the top of the Bundesliga at the weekend, taking advantage of a rare slip by their next opponents Bayern Munich, Leverkusen made it immediately clear they were not willing to cede their place at the summit after just a few days. Within ten minutes, they were already two goals to the good, and well on their way to another three points. Weiser was not initially in the starting XI, but an injury to Lars Bender in the warm-up saw him start, and he was in the right place at the right time to volley in Sebastiaan Bornauw's attempted headed clearance to put Die Werkself in front. Diaby added a second for a very confident Leverkusen, with a kind of goal you only even attempt when you know everything is going right for your team, shooting from outside the area into the bottom corner. With Jannes Horn on a yellow card and finding Leon Bailey a handful, his day ended even before half-time, as Markus Gisdol's thoughts already turned to damage limitation.
Worse was to follow for the Billy Goats in the second half, though, with Schick sliding in at the near post to meet Diaby's cross for 3-0. Only five minutes passed before Wirtz made it four, taking the ball from Bailey and beating Timo Horn in a one-against-one situation. Schick could and perhaps should have added a fifth when he rounded Horn, but he sent his shot against the left-hand post. The win was already secure, though, and Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz was able to think ahead to his side's top-of-the-table clash with Bayern on Saturday evening by using all five of his substitutions. With this win, Leverkusen go into that game ahead of the Bavarians, and on course to end 2020 at the top of the pile.
- Wirtz is only the fifth player in Bundesliga history to have scored three goals before his 18th birthday.
- He is the youngest player (17 years, 227 days) to reach that mark, beating Timo Werner's record.
- Schick's three goals this season have all come away from home.
- Leverkusen have never lost against Cologne when they have opened the scoring (19 wins, 13 draws).
- Lars Bender's only Bundesliga brace came in Cologne, in a 2-0 win on 25 February 2012.
Watch: Bailey: "I'm looking forward to the game"
Cologne: T. Horn (c) - Cestic, Bornauw, J. Horn (Limnios 42') - Skhiri (Hector 65') - Wolf, Özcan, Rexhbecaj (Jorge Mere 65'), Jakobs - Andersson (Modeste 65'), Thielmann (Ehizibue 46')
Unused subs: Zieler, Schmitz, Katterbach, Drexler
Out: Czichos (groin), Duda (suspended), Kainz (knee)
Coach: Markus Gisdol
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser, Tah, Dragovic (Tapsoba 66'), Wendell - Wirtz, Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 66'), Amiri (Sinkgraven 78') - Bailey (Bellarabi 66'), Schick (Alario 78'), Diaby
Unused subs: Lomb, Jedvaj, Weiser, Gedikli
Out: Aranguiz (Achilles tendon), Arias (ankle), L. Bender (injury in warm-up), S. Bender (knee), Palacios (back), Paulinho (knee)
Coach: Peter Bosz