Bayer Leverkusen got back to winning ways after two consecutive defeats, triumphing 4-1 at near neighbours Fortuna Düsseldorf to remain clear in third place on 48 points, and on course for a direct Champions League berth.
Kießling on the mark again
Two goals apiece from prolific forward duo Stefan Kießling and Andre Schürrle sealed a slightly flattering win for the visitors in the end, against a Düsseldorf side now winless in five outings. The day's silver lining for Fortuna came with Augsburg's home loss to Hannover, keeping the gap between the sides at five points near the bottom.
The visitors left it to Fortuna to set the early pace, but carved out the first half-chance of the contest themselves with a seventh-minute counter-attack which ended with (Andre) Schürrle stabbing Daniel Carvajal's low ball into the box just wide.
After that, the Werkself gradually started to take control of proceedings with some deft passing sequences. Scoring opportunities remained at a premium until midway through the half, when Bayer were handed a golden one on a plate. Sidney Sam cut into the box from the left and Leon Balogun hauled him down, earning himself a booking and the visitors a penalty. Kießling stepped up and slammed it home into the top corner for his 17th goal of the campaign.
Düsseldorf pull level
Obliged to show somewhat more up front than they thus far had, Düsseldorf responded with a great end-to-end attack of their own, Axel Bellinghausen cutting the ball back for an unmarked Robbie Kruse, whose finish was disappointingly wide of the target. An effort from Schürrle was blocked at the last and Robert Tesche zipped a fine effort just wide of the post for the hosts as the action now swung from end to end and three minutes before the interval Düsseldorf hauled themselves level, albeit with a bit of luck.
Kruse played a low cross into the far post where Stefan Reisinger was lurking and Daniel Schwaab, trying to clear the danger, only succeeded in diverting the ball past keeper Bernd Leno into his own net. Further chances at either end for Kießling and Bellinghausen then came to naught as the half finished in high style.
Late flurry, one-way finish
The home side sought to maintain that late surge of momentum as the second 45 got under way and with Bayer for their part now struggling to recapture any real fluency, it was Düsseldorf who were looking the likelier to score as the contest entered its final half-hour. Instead, with their first chance of note since the restart, Leverkusen put themselves right back in the driving seat. Kießling met Sebastian Boenisch's ball to the far post with a lay-off for Sam, and when his initial effort was blocked, Schürrle was on hand to snap up the rebound.
Understandably buoyed by that somewhat fortuitous lead, Leverkusen visibly steadied their game and with 84 minutes on the clock they made the result effectively secure, Kießling running through one-on-one with home keeper Fabian Giefer before unselfishly slipping the ball to strike partner Andre Schürrle for the simplest of finishes. The visitors were not done yet either, Kießling duly converting a cross to claim his own brace and round things off with a couple of minutes remaining.
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