Julian Brandt (3rd r.) was on the scoresheet as Bayer Leverkusen beat Hannover comfortably to move up to third
Julian Brandt (3rd r.) was on the scoresheet as Bayer Leverkusen beat Hannover comfortably to move up to third

Leverkusen up to third; important points for Mainz

Cologne - Bayer 04 Leverkusen moved up to third in the Bundesliga table on Matchday 29, while 1. FSV Mainz 04 picked up their first win in four games and Hertha Berlin were held in the capital by 1. FC Köln.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-0 Hannover 96

bundesliga.com rounds up the Saturday afternoon encounters...

Bayer 04 Leverkusen moved above Borussia Mönchengladbach into an automatic UEFA Champions League qualification spot with an emphatic 4-0 win over Hannover 96.

Ömer Toprak, Julian Brandt, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Stefan Kießling scored the goals for the Werkself, with Hannover, now winless in 13 matches, offering little or no threat in return.

One-way traffic

Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt left out Germany international Karim Bellarabi for the first time in any competitive game all season, but the latter’s absence made little difference, with the home side dominating the game and Toprak opening the scoring with a near-post header. Julian Brandt, Bellarabi’s replacement, then doubled the lead with a neat finish inside the far corner.

The points were more or less sewn up within five minutes of the restart, as Papadopoulos lashed in a rebound after Kießling had headed against the bar. The 31-year-old eventually crowned his performance with a goal by tapping in to score Leverkusen's fourth, with Simon Rolfes and Bellarabi spurning good chances to make the margin of victory even greater.

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SC Freiburg 2-3 1. FSV Mainz 05

1. FSV Mainz 05 edged out SC Freiburg with a clinical 3-2 victory at the Schwarzwald-Stadion, taking a major step to safety this term.

A Shinji Okazaki brace - his 11th and 12th goals of the season - had Mainz in control at the interval, and although Admir Mehmedi gave the host hope, Yunus Malli’s goal sealed the 05ers’ win, despite Jonathan Schmid’s late strike.

Okazaki on the spot

Freiburg had come into the game on a run of seven points from nine, and they began the game confidently in the Black Forest sunshine, with Mehmedi drawing a smart stop from Loris Karius and Schmid skewing an effort wide of the target. It came against the run of play, therefore, that Mainz went in at the break two goals to the good thanks to two predatory finishes from Okazaki.

Freiburg coach Christian Streich threw on Nils Petersen in the second half and the SV Werder Bremen loanee almost pulled one back when he fired straight at Karius. Mehmedi did raise hopes of a comeback when he curled in delightfully to make it 2-1, but Malli’s header all but made sure of the points for Mainz, rendering Schmid’s goal a mere consolation.

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Hertha Berlin 0-0 1. FC Köln

Hertha Berlin and 1. FC Köln remain on course for Bundesliga safety after playing out a goalless draw on Matchday 29.

Chances were at a premium at the Olympiastadion, with Hertha the more dominant side for much the game, despite failing to find a way past the outstanding Timo Horn between the Köln sticks. The result leaves both sides in the relative comfort of mid-table with fives game remaining.

Kalou close

Aiming to build on last weekend's convincing home victory against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Köln started into the game positively, although it was Hertha that enjoyed the game's first opportunity when Sebastian Langkamp forced Horn into a brilliant reflex save. Salomon Kalou looked particularly lively in the Hertha attack, and the Ivory Coast striker came close to taking his season tally to seven after half an hour when he steered a cross just wide.

The home side kept up the pressure after the restart, Horn doing well again to keep out Valentin Stocker's sharp header, before Kalou failed to hit the target with only the goalkeeper to beat. The away side could only offer a periodic threat, with Anthony Ujah missing their only serious second-half opportunity with ten minutes on the clock, leaving Hertha unbeaten in seven.

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