Stefan Kießling's match-winning penalty for Leverkusen against Bremen took his season tally up to 22...
Stefan Kießling's match-winning penalty for Leverkusen against Bremen took his season tally up to 22...

Kießling: "Happy, and proud"

Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen's 1-0 home victory over Werder Bremen on Matchday 31, coupled with Eintracht Frankfurt's draw at Mainz, guarantees the Werkself a place in the qualifying rounds of next season's UEFA Champions League at the very least.

The match-winner for Bayer, as so often this season, was sunk by Stefan Kießling, whose 35th-minute penalty also ensured him a share, at least, of a club record. The Leverkusen goalgetter spoke with the press after the match about that, and the team's increasingly bright prospects of a top-three finish.

Question: Stefan Kießling, congratulations on the win against Bremen. What's your take on the game?

Stefan Kießling: Bremen made it difficult for us. We controlled the game, but weren't able to get much going up front. At the end of the day we did enough to win it, and take another big step towards qualifying for the Champions League. I think we showed today that we've got the spirit to battle on when we're not playing that well, and to grind out a result - with the rub of the green as well.

Question: If Schalke were to lose to Hamburg on Sunday (Schalke won 4-1, ed.), Champions League qualification would be in the bag for Bayer.

Kießling: So we can just sit back and watch the Schalke game in comfort on the sofa. Even if they win, seven points from their last three games is still a tall order.

Question: Your only shot on goal today was the penalty that won the game. Simon Rolfes, who missed one recently, gave you the chance to take it. Were you feeling confident?

Kießling: As confident as you do before any other one. You're hoping the ball's going to end up in the net. (laughs)

Question: What about the situation that led to the penalty?

Kießling: Sidney Sam had got his shot off, and OK it wasn't on target, but the keeper really took him out. So the decision was fair enough.

Question: That goal also takes you level with Ulf Kirsten's season record of 22 for Bayer in the Bundesliga. What does that mean to you?

Kießling: I haven't overtaken him yet, just equalled it. I'm happy, and proud as well. Obviously I'm going to be giving it my all over the final three games of the season as well. Maybe there's another goal or two on the cards yet.

Question: The canon for Bundesliga top scorer's not beyond your reach either. What do you reckon?

Kießling: We'll see what else Robert Lewandowski does. But finishing as Bundesliga top scorer's not so important for me. What matters is that we qualify for the Champions League. The club record's something to be proud of, that makes me happy. All the rest will be revealed soon enough.

Question: The Bundesliga rumour mill's going into overdrive at the moment. Your name's there in the mix as well, now...

Kießling: I can't do anything about rumours. I've two years left on my contract and there's no pressure to talk with the management about it. I feel right at home in Leverkusen. So let's just wait and see, without any stress.

Markus Hoffman reporting from Leverkusen