Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen returned to winning ways with a deserved yet laborious 2-1 victory at home to FC Augsburg.
Augsburg on top
Stefan Kießling opened the scoring with a diving header before Lars Bender settled matters with a late strike. Sascha Mölders' effort in the closing minutes proved to be too little too late from the guests, who succumbed to their first league defeat of 2013.
Despite trailing their hosts by 25 points and and 14 places prior to kick-off, Augsburg began with the confidence of a side much further up the table. Comfortable in possession and looking to attack at every opportunity, it was easy to see why results had improved of late.
The guests' early probing almost paid off too, but Marcel de Jong dragged his shot wide from a tight angle after a neat one-two on the edge of the area took him behind the hosts' backline. For their part, Leverkusen still looked to be feeling the after-effects of Thursday evening's UEFA Europa League defeat to SL Benfica and lacked their customary sharpness and pace going forward.
Kießling scores, again
Nevertheless, Sami Hyypiä's men gradually started to find their rhythm and improved as the match wore on, although the opener still came against the run of play. Gonzalo Castro swung in a free-kick from the right, which Kießling stooped to head into the bottom corner for his 15th goal of the season. Sidney Sam forced Augsburg keeper Alex Manninger into a fingertip save shortly afterwards, leaving the match finely balanced at half-time.
Augsburg were unfazed at being behind and stuck to their short passing game following the restart, looking to take advantage of the speed and trickery of South Korean duo Dong-Won Ji and Ja Cheol Koo up front, although the Werkself's compact defence had little trouble keeping them at arm's length.
Winless streak ended
Leverkusen were far from content with the status quo either and soon wrestled control of the match, creating several half-chances following well-worked team moves. More often than not the hosts attacked down the right, a product of solid performance from Augsburg right-back Michael Parkhurst on his full debut for the club.
Parkhurst himself had the guests' best chance of the match, but hurried his shot after marauding into the box. It proved decisive, as Bayer doubled their advantage from the ensuing counterattack, Bender side-footing home after Andre Schürrle's shot was blocked. Mölders' expert finish from close range in the 89th minute came too late to alter the result, which ended Leverkusen's run of four competitive games without victory.
Line-ups and statistics