Bundesliga

Lucas Alario on target as Leverkusen seal Europa League spot

Lucas Alario scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen punched their ticket into next season’s UEFA Europa League with a 3-2 win over Hannover at the BayArena.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Hannover

Goals: 1-0 Alario (3’), 2-0 Alario (17’), 3-0 Brandt (55’), 3-1 Füllkrug (90'). 3-2 Harnik (90+4')

Champions League aspirations aside, most of the Leverkusen-led talk centred on the retiring Stefan Kießling and the suspended Kevin Volland before kick-off, but Lucas Alario soon made sure the spotlight was shining on him, volleying home a stunning left-footed opener from the edge of the Hannover box. Die Werkself could have doubled their advantage minutes later, but Wendell endured a rare penalty-spot miss. Their second arrived soon after, though, Alario capitalising on Matthias Ostrzolek’s loose back pass to round Michael Esser in the visiting goal and steer home for 2-0. Charles Aranguiz – having teed up the opener – tried his luck from distance towards the end of the first half, but his effort stayed out and the sides went in for their half-time oranges with the scores at 2-0.

Alario twice came close to bagging his hat-trick before Julian Brandt put the game beyond doubt 10 minutes into the second half, racing onto Lars Bender’s pass before beating Esser one-on-one. With Hoffenheim beating Borussia Dortmund with less than 20 minutes to go, Leverkusen knew that they needed a further two goals to make the Champions League. They never came - indeed Niclas Füllkrug and Martin Harnik ended any hopes with a pair of late consolations - but Heiko Herrlich's men can nonetheless hold their heads up high after a fine attacking season which saw three goals today and 58 overall.

Match stats

    Alario’s goals were his eighth and ninth of the Bundesliga campaign.Die Werkself have won their last 10 home games against Hannover, keeping a clean sheet in nine of those 10 games.Brandt ends the campaign with nine goals and three assists, making 2017/18 his most productive season to date.Bernd Leno has only conceded 10 goals in his 12 career Bundesliga games against Hannover.Despite their best efforts, Leverkusen will now go a fourth-consecutive season with Champions League football.Leverkusen were only two goals short of making it back to Europe’s top table, though.

Line-ups

Leverkusen: Leno – Jedvaj, L. Bender (c) (Kießling 83'), Tah, Wendell – Baumgartlinger (Kohr 23’), Aranguiz (Bellarabi 74') – Brandt, Havertz, Bailey – Alario
Unused subs: Özcan, S. Bender, Henrichs
Absentees:Volland (suspended)
Coach:
Heiko Herrlich

Hannover:Esser –Hübers, Sane (c), Elez (Bebou 46’) – Korb, Fossum (Albornoz 74') Bakalorz, Ostrzolek – Harnik, Maier (Maina 63’) – Füllkrug
Unused subs: Tschauner, Hübner, Anton
Absentees:Prib (cruciate ligament), Klaus (adductor), Jonathas (hamstring), Sarenren Bazee (ill), Sorg (thigh)
Coach:
Andre Breitenreiter

As it happened