Kai Havertz became the first player in Bundesliga history to score 35 goals before turning 21 to help his side past Freiburg, but Bayer Leverkusen will be waiting to hear news of the 20-year-old's fitness after he was injured in the win.
Looking to respond after their 12-game unbeaten run was snatched from them in a 4-1 defeat at home to Wolfsburg in midweek, it was Leverkusen who began the first half brightest. The home side had as much as 70 per cent of the ball in the opening 20 minutes but could not break through a compact Freiburg side set up by Streich to defend first, attack second. Leverkusen's attempts at stretching the game wide were countered by Freiburg's well-structured shape, keeping the game in the middle of the pitch, much to Peter Bosz's frustration. Chances began to flow towards the end of the first period as Leon Bailey flirted with the first shot on target of the game for either side before Lucas Höler had the perfect opportunity to open the scoring at the other end. One-on-one with Lukas Hradecky, the Freiburg forward went for the far bottom corner but curled his strike wide, leaving the game goalless at the break.
Leverkusen continued to dominate the ball into the second half and made the breakthrough just after the hour-mark with their first shot on target. Havertz flicked the ball to Bailey before continuing his run into the box where he was found by the Jamaican, and slotted the ball under Alexander Schwolow while holding off the challenge of Dominique Heintz. It was almost a first Leverkusen goal for Florian Wirtz minutes later, but the 17-year-old's strike across goal drifted just wide. There were worried faces across the Leverkusen bench on 66 minutes though, as Havertz pulled up with injury and had to be substituted. Nils Petersen had one of several chances to equalise in the final minutes for Freiburg but Hradecky made a superb save to deny him and the travelling side held on and took all three points to move provisionally third in the table above RB Leipzig.
- Havertz is the first player in Bundesliga history to score 35 goals before turning 21.
- The 20-year-old Leverkusen star has now scored five goals since the Bundesliga's restart, more than any other player in the league. It was also his first goal or assist in seven meetings with Freiburg.
- Freiburg have won only one of their last 10 against Leverkusen, and scored just one in their last six, and now suffered their first defeat in seven home meetings with Die Werskelf.
- Petersen made his Bundesliga debut against Leverkusen back in May 2009, whilst on the books of Energie Cottbus. Freiburg's record scorer has found the net twice in his seven meetings with the Rhineland club.
- Leverkusen are unbeaten in six against Freiburg (W3, D3), and won at the Schwarzwald-Stadion in the Bundesliga for the first time since October 2011.
Watch: Bailey: "Havertz is an inspiration to young players"
Freiburg: Schwolow – Kübler (Gulde 66'), Lienhart, Heintz, Günter (c) – Sallai (Schmid 66'), Koch (Frantz 75'), Höfler, Grifo (Kwon 75') – Höler (Waldschmidt 75'), Petersen
Unused subs: Flekken, Schlotterbeck, Abrashi, Tempelmann
Out: Haberer (ankle), Ravet (muscular)
Coach: Christian Streich
Leverkusen: Hradecky - Tah, S. Bender, Dragovic - Amiri, Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger, Sinkgraven (Alario 62') – Wirtz (Paulinho 85'), Havertz (c) (Diaby 66'), Bailey (Tapsoba 85')
Unused subs: Özcan, Demirbay, Palacios, Bellarabi, Volland
Out: L. Bender (foot)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Watch: Tah on facing Bayern Munich next in the Bundesliga