Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen made light work of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to ease to a 2-0 win at the BayArena .
Hakan Calhanoglu was the Werkself’s inspiration, scoring one and making another for Stefan Kießling, but Bayer will have to qualify for the UEFA Champions League via the qualifying rounds next season after Borussia Mönchengladbach won at SV Werder Bremen.
Emotions were high among the home fans, chiefly as it was the final home appearances for club captain Simon Rolfes, who retires from professional football at the end of the campaign after a ten-year stint at the club. Nevertheless, it was Hoffenheim that came closest to an early goal, with Bernd Leno saving well from Tarik Elyounoussi.
Karim Bellarabi had been restored to the starting eleven but Leverkusen initially struggled to find much rhythm in a game punctuated by stoppages. Calhanoglu had their best opportunity of the opening half-hour but his free-kick was tipped over by Oliver Baumann.
Calhanoglu the key
It looked as if the teams would head into the break all square, but Calhanoglu was given one more set-piece opportunity before the interval and he duly made it count, curling his 30-yard free-kick low under the body of Baumann to put the hosts in front.
Hoffenheim, without the suspended Roberto Firmino, had offered little since Elyounoussi’s early opportunity, and their challenge - as well as potentially their push for a UEFA Europa League finish - was ended on the hour-mark when Calhanoglu played in Kießling to make it 2-0.
Rolfes’ emotional goodbye
Gonzalo Castro was soon introduced in place of Rolfes, with the arena rising to its feet in recognition of the veteran’s 287th league appearance for the club. The rest of the contest, meanwhile, resembled something of a procession.
Roger Schmidt’s men held on to their clean sheet, a ninth in a row at home to equal a Bundesliga record, while Hoffenheim have now suffered four defeats in six and may have to rely on Borussia Dortmund winning the DFB Cup to crown the Sinsheimers’ first-ever participation in European football next season.
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