Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen made a clear statement of their intent in the new season, opening their 2013/14 Bundesliga account with maximum points courtesy of a deserved 3-1 victory over SC Freiburg.
New season, same story
Stefan Kießling proved his eye for goal is as keen as ever by netting the opener, only for Mike Hanke to cancel it out before the break. However, quickfire second-half strikes from Heung Min Son and Sidney Sam ensured it was Sami Hyypiä's men celebrating come the final whistle.
While both teams enjoyed strong campaigns last time out, finishing third and fifth respectively, each brought in several new faces over the summer break and as a result the opening period was somewhat disjointed. Nevertheless, the hosts were quicker into their stride and, though Freiburg struggled to get to grips with their swift one-touch passing, clear-cut chances failed to materialise.
Perhaps inevitably, the deadlock was broken by last season's top scorer Kießling, who made Freiburg goalkeeper Oliver Baumann pay for his hesitancy by looping a terrific header over the stranded custodian. Not to be outdone by his strike partner, South Korean forward Son turned on the style, twice skipping past his marker with ease only for his shooting to let him down.
Yet Freiburg demonstrated the kind of dogged relisience that took many onlookers by surprise last term and gradually fought their way back into the tie. Christian Streich's troops pulled level shortly before the break as Jonathan Schmid dashed forward down the right, before patiently waiting for space to open up and slotting the ball through to Hanke, who poked home at the near post.
Leverkusen swiftly reasserted their dominance in the second period though, as Ömer Toprak caught the high Freiburg backline flat-footed to release Sam through on goal. The midfielder bore down on Baumann before squaring to Son for an easy tap in. The provider turned scorer shortly afterwards, sliding the ball in following a well-worked counter.
Leno to the rescue
At the urging of coach Streich on the touchline, the guests refused to let their heads hang and forged another opportunity to get back into the game. Lars Bender clumsily brought down Oliver Sorg in the box, but Schmid, taking a maiden Bundesliga penalty, struck his effort too softly to beat Bernd Leno, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.
The hosts shut up shop thereafter and though Freiburg continued to push forward, they failed to breach Leverkusen's defence again, as Hyypiä's men went into energy conservation mode, content with their advantage and all three points.
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