Leverkusen - A gritty display from Bayer 04 Leverkusen helped them twice come from behind to beat Hertha Berlin 4-2 and continue their outstanding start to the season.
Leverkusen youngster Tin Jedvaj put the ball into his own net in the first half, only to score at the right end shortly after the restart. Julian Schieber restored the visitors' advantage against the run of play before Emir Spahic, substitute Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi struck to secure victory for the hosts.
Fresh from their convincing win over FC Kobenhavn in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers during the week, Leverkusen began in what is now their customary style: not allowing their opponents any room to breathe by harrying them in packs high up the pitch. They completely smothered Hertha to begin with, enjoying 70 per cent possession during the first quarter of an hour and gradually to carving out chances.
Bellarabi, scorer of the Bundesliga’s fastest ever goal last week, had the first sight of goal after playing a neat one-two on the edge of the box with Heung-Min Son but could only prod his effort wide of the post. The same duo combined moments later when Bellarabi was fed by a delightful through-ball from the South Korean attacker, only for his effort to be saved by visiting keeper Rune Jarstein.
Jedvaj makes amends
Yet it was the guests that took the lead against the run of play, winning possession in midfield and breaking down the right through Schieber, whose teasing cross was turned into his own net by 18-year-old Croatian defender Jedvaj. It took Bayer a while to recover from the shock of going behind, while the visitors were understandably buoyed by their lead and went close to adding to it after more good from Schieber.
They would rue those missed opportunities shortly after the restart, though, as Jedvaj made up for his earlier own goal by finishing from close range following a superb run and pass from Gonzalo Castro. The hosts began to dominate once again and Hakan Calhanoglu went close to grabbing another goal moments later after jinking in from the left and shooting wide of the post.
It developed into a thrillingly open encounter and Hertha went in front once again when Schieber finally had his goal, nodding in from inside the six-yard box after some sloppy Leverkusen defending. The hosts were level once more within two minutes, however, with Emir Spahic heading past Jarstein from a delightful Calhanoglu free-kick.
Once again, Roger Schmidt's team were on terms and there was a sense of inevitability that they would build on the boost of a second equaliser and pull through. When the irrepressible Bellarabi burst into the box and against the post, Brandt was well positioned expertly convert the rebound. A stunning volley late on from Bellarabi himself then rounded off a deserved victory, die Werkself showing once again that they will be a force to be reckoned with near the top of the league this season.
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