Wirtz on target as leaders Leverkusen beat Freiburg


Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick were among the goals as Bayer Leverkusen restored their 10-point lead on Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga with a 3-2 win at Freiburg's Europa-Park Stadion.

Freiburg 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Wirtz 2' (assist: Grimaldo), 1-1 Dōan 10', 1-2 Hložek 40', 1-3 Schick 53' (assist: Frimpong)

Bayer bounced into the weekend with a comfortable cushion over Bayern, and although the champions laid down the gauntlet with a 5-2 thrashing of Darmstadt on Saturday, Leverkusen looked ready to follow suit when they took the lead through Wirtz inside the first two minutes. His curling finish was soon cancelled out by Ritsu Dōan, though, and after the leveller Freiburg looked the better side for long periods of the first half. Merlin Röhl, playing in place of the suspended Maximilian Eggestein, had the home crowd on their feet after a good volley, but it was the outside side-netting that had rippled. Jeremie Frimpong had a chance at the other end late in the half, but he couldn't decide whether to pass or shoot before running into Manuel Gulde. There was no such profligacy from Adam Hložek moments later, though, the Czech taking advantage of a rare start, and spill from Noah Atubolu, to fire home. 

The second half was less than 10 minutes old when Leverkusen pulled further clear. Frimpong whipped a fine ball in from the right and Schick was on hand with a sumptuous first-time finish which went in off the far post. As with the opener, Freiburg responded, and Röhl headed a Christian Günter cross narrowly wide soon after. Christian Streich rang the changes just past the hour, sending three players, including recent European hero Michael Gregoritsch, into the fray, but Leverkusen continued to dominate. Álex Grimaldo smashed a free-kick into the Freiburg wall before Wirtz, Schick and Frimpong tried to pass the ball into the net - a chance that went begging. Freiburg pulled another back through second-half substitute Yannick Keitel, but it proved too little, too late.

Match stats

  • Leverkusen are now undefeated in 38 games across all competitions - the longest run in German footballing history.
  • Grimaldo, who assisted the opener, has 20 goal involvements this season. Only Harry Kane (36), Serhou Guirassy (22), Ermedin Demirović (22) and Loïs Openda (21) - all strikers - have more.
  • Bayer have won their last six away games in the Bundesliga - a new club record.
  • Freiburg are winless in their last 16 meetings with Bundesliga leaders (D3, L13).
  • However, they have only lost three of 11 home games against Leverkusen under Streich (the other two both coming in 2020).
  • Leverkusen completed 746 passes in the match compared to Freiburg's 346 - a margin of 400!

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Freiburg: Atubolu - Sildillia, Ginter (Lienhart 62'), Gulde, Günter (c) - Dōan, Höfler, Röhl (Keitel 76'), Grifo (Muslija 61') - Sallai (Gregoritsch 62'), Höler (Philipp 76')
Unused subs: Müller, Kübler, Makengo, Adamu
Out: Eggestein (suspended), Kyereh (knee), Lienhart (groin), Schmidt (abdominals)
Coach: Christian Streich

Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Stanišić, Tah, Hincapié - Frimpong (Tella 83'), Xhaka, Palacios (Tapsoba 89'), Grimaldo - Hložek (Andrich 83'), Wirtz - Schick (Adli 76')
Unused subs: Kovář, Kossounou, Mbamba, Puerta, Iglesias
Out: Arthur (thigh), Boniface (groin), Hofmann (hip)
Coach: Xabi Alonso