Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen side gave their coach the perfect present for his 42nd birthday on Saturday with a 3-0 victory at Werder Bremen to return to the Bundesliga summit.
Bremen 0-3 Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Deman (o.g. 9'), 0-2 Frimpong 43 (assist: Hincapie), 0-3 Grimaldo 76' (assist: Adli)
Bayern Munich had gone one point ahead following their victory over Cologne on Friday evening, so Leverkusen went into the game determined to reclaim pole position. Victor Boniface had the ball in the net as early as the sixth minute after rounding the goalkeeper from Jonas Hofmann's pass, but it was ruled out for offside. The visitors did take the lead just moments later though, when Hofmann's cross from the left caught Bremen defender Olivier Deman off guard, the ball bouncing off his standing leg and rolling into his own net. It was largely an evenly contested game after that, with neither side coming close to adding to the scoreline until just before half-time, when Hofmann released Piero Hincapie into the box, and his cut-back from the left was lashed into the net by Jeremie Frimpong
The second half was a cat-and-mouse affair initially, with Bremen aware they needed to get forward, but wary of Leverkusen's pace and prowess on the counter-attack. The hosts did manage to produce a sustained period of pressure though, and they thought they had pulled a goal back when Marvin Ducksch stroked in from Romano Schmid's pass, but it was chalked off for offside in the build-up. Any hopes of a comeback were quashed in the closing stages though, when Alejandro Grimaldo collected Amine Adli's pass before surging into the box and unleashing an unstoppable shot high into the net. Adli also had a goal ruled out for offside, while Bremen substitute Justin Njinmah rattled the crossbar late on, but the result was already beyond all doubt by that point as Leverkusen won their 11th Bundesliga game of the campaign.
- Bremen have now conceded 66 own goals in their Bundesliga history - more than any other top flight club.
- Leverkusen have benefitted from two own goals this term - more than any other club.
- Frimpong's goal was clocked at 107 km/h (66.5 mph).
- The Dutchman now has four goals and five assists this season.
- Leverkusen have scored at least two goals in each of their 12 league games in 2023/24 - something no club in Bundesliga history has ever previously achieved.
- Grimaldo has been directly involved in at least one goal in all of Leverkusen's away game in the Bundesliga this season, scoring six and providing one assist.
Watch: Alonso: "We played with good control"
Bremen: Zetterer - Veljković, Friedl (c), Jung (Stark 83') - Weiser, Schmid (Lynen 83'), Stage, Bittencourt (Njinmah 72'), Deman (Agu 56') - Borré (Woltemade 72'), Ducksch
Unused subs: Pavlenka, Pieper, Groß, Kownacki
Out: Keita (illness), Opitz (ankle), Rapp (foot)
Coach: Ole Werner
Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Kossounou, Andrich, Hincapié - Frimpong (Tella 81'), Palacios, Xhaka (Puerta 89'), Grimaldo - Hofmann (Amiri 89'), Wirtz (Hložek 81') - Boniface (Adli 71')
Unused subs: Kovář, Stanišić, Tah, Tapsoba
Out: Arthur (thigh), Schick (match fitness)
Coach: Xabi Alonso
Watch: Grimaldo: "I have a lot of confidence in my shooting ability"
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