Düsseldorf - Stefan Kießling once again underlined his importance to Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 27, scoring a brace as die Werkself got back to winning ways with a 4-1 Rhine derby win at Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Speaking to the assembled media after the game, the 29-year-old, who has 18 goals in the league this season, expressed his relief at aiding his side in securing victory and alleviating some of the pressure the club had been under after two straight defeats. The six-time German international also hinted at personal, as well as collective targets for the final seven matches of Leverkusen's season.
Question:Stefan Kießling, congratulations on the derby victory and scoring two goals. How did you rate the team’s overall performance?
Stefan Kießling: It was a difficult match, but we finally kept our cool in front of goal, and that was important. We weren’t at our best, but in the end it’s all about taking the three points. We’ve had a number of games this season where we played well but left empty-handed.
Question: You seemed extremely relieved once the final whistle blew.
Kießling: We were all very relieved because there was pressure on us after losing the previous two matches. Our aim is to secure third place, but to do so we still have to work hard. There was also some added emotion because it was a derby game, and Düsseldorf matched us really well for parts of the encounter.
Question: Was a possible third straight defeat a worry for the players?
Kießling: We weren’t worried, but we obviously felt some weight on our shoulders after those two defeats. There was lots of talk surrounding us, but we managed to raise our game well.
Question: You said after the 2-1 defeat to FC Bayern Munich that the team needed to rediscover its clinical streak in front of goal. Have you now found it again?
Kießling: I think so, yes. There were a couple of games in the first half of the season where we failed to find a way into the match. When that happens, then it’s important you make sure you don’t concede and somehow grind out the win.
Question: You are now on 18 goals for the season, only two behind Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, the league's top goalscorer at present...
Kießling: (laughs) Last week he was three ahead... To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me too much. I try to help the team with my goals and commitment. But of course I wouldn’t mind being top goalscorer at the end of the season.
Tobias Gonscherowski reporting from Düsseldorf