Leverkusen beat Bremen to seal champions league play-offs

Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen booked their place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs thanks to a 2-1 win at home to SV Werder Bremen on Matchday 34.

Bremen sitting deep

Theodor Gebre Selassie gave a brave Bremen side the lead before Ömer Toprak initiated Leverkusen’s comeback, with Heung-Min Son sealing three points for Leverkusen.

The hosts, unbeaten in their previous four games, started promisingly at the BayArena and dominated possession, although clear-cut goalscoring chances proved difficult to come by for Sascha Lewandowski’s men as Werder’s disciplined backline largely held them to long-range efforts. Son went close for Leverkusen as his deflected effort hit the side netting, before Eren Derdiyok’s swerving strike sailed wide 15 minutes into the game.

Bremen sat deep at the BayArena, although they weren't without their chances as they looked to beat Bayer on the break. That strategy paid dividends in the 21st minute when the unmarked Gebre Selassie applied the finishing touches on Aaron Hunt’s pinpoint assist to leave Bernd Leno in the Bayer Leverkusen goal no chance.

Toprak’s answer

Leverkusen reacted well to that setback, however, looking more threatening as the first half progressed. Son, at the heart of most the home side’s promising action, sent another warning towards the Werder goal at the half-hour mark, and parity was restored when Toprak skillfully nodded Emre Can’s cross from the right into the top left corner to pull Lewandowski’s charges level.

With closest rivals VfL Wolfsburg leading Borussia Mönchengladbach at the break, however, the Werkself knew a win was needed to seal fourth place and stay on track for the Champions League play-offs. Substitute Simon Rolfes had a shot blocked at the edge of the box before Gonzalo Castro’s effort was scraped off the goal-line by Clemens Fritz, but Son was well-positioned when Derdiyok’s header bounced off the crossbar to slot in for Leverkusen’s lead in the 53rd minute.

Late scare

Right-back Giulio Donati could have extended the home side’s advantage on the hour on a rare foray forward, only to be denied by Bremen goalkeeper Sebastian Wolf, while Rolfes skied his shot after being sent through by Castro.

With the lead still only at 2-1, though, Bayer could not afford to switch off at the back and they survived a scare in the 80th minute when defensive sloppiness saw the ball come to Gebre Selassie, whose effort was saved by Leno, allowing Leverkusen to secure a crucial home win to stay in fourth, while Bremen ended the season in 12th.

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