Bremen - SV Werder Bremen’s revival continued apace with a gutsy 2-1 win at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
A couple of stunning first-half goals from Davie Selke and Zlatko Junuzovic sent the partisan crowd at the Weser-Stadion into raptures and, although Bayer 04 pulled one back through 21st birthday boy Hakan Calhanoglu, Werder held on to record their third successive league win since the turn of the year.
Bremen leading scorer Franco Di Santo, who was on target in the barnstorming 3-3 draw in Leverkusen on Matchday 3, had to watch from the sidelines after aggravating a thigh injury in training. Bayer 04 defender Emir Spahic returned to the starting line-up to keep tabs on Green-Whites strike duo Fin Barthels on Selke, but Asian Cup-goer Heung-Min Son was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench.
The first 15 minutes passed without either goalkeeper being tested, although the first effort on target turned out to be well worth the wait. Junuzovic collected Felix Kroos’ inventive back heel to send Barthels scampering down the left-hand side; the former FC St Pauli striker used the outside of his right boot to loop a superb ball into the path of Selke, who volleyed home his fifth league strike of the campaign with aplomb.
Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno pulled off a fantastic reaction save to keep out Theodor Gebre Selassie’s flicked header as Bremen turned the screw, but the German stopper was powerless to prevent Junuzovic making it two with a trademark free kick. The Werkself upped the ante late in the half, though, with Calhanoglu heading home from close range after Gonzalo Castro and Wendell had both hit the post.
The Leverkusen scorer must have picked up a knock as Son took to the field in the Turkey international’s stead at the start of the second half. Bremen’s Alejandro Galvez lasted only marginally longer, before making way for Assani Lukimya. The defensive shake-up seemed to unsettle the hosts, who breathed a collected sigh of relief when Stefan Kießling beat Raphael Wolf but not the right-hand post.
Bremen hold firm
Sensing his side might be losing a grip on proceedings, Werder head coach Viktor Skripnik sent on Leverkusen loanee Levin Öztunali in place of Barthels. Leverkusen’s Josip Drmic had himself only been on the pitch a few minutes before forcing Wolf into action with a glancing header, only for Karim Bellarabi to send the follow-up high into the stand behind the Bremen goal.
Roger Schmidt’s men huffed and puffed as the clock ticked down, but lacked the necessary gumption in the final third to really trouble Bremen, who saw out the remainder with minimum fuss to make it four league wins on the bounce for the first time since April-May 2010.
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