Kevin Volland scored two late goals to help Bayer Leverkusen return to winning ways in a 2-0 victory at home to VfB Stuttgart in the Matchday 12 opener on Friday.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 VfB Stuttgart
Goals: 1-0 Volland (76'), 2-0 Volland (83')
The hosts went into the game on the back of consecutive defeats to Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, but started confidently against the side propping up the table. Leverkusen's quick passing around the edge of the Stuttgart box was more than the visitors could deal with at times, but Volland, Kai Havertz, Charles Aranguiz and Tin Jedvaj all spurned presentable opportunities to take the lead. There was very little threat from Stuttgart at the other end, with a tame Mario Gomez header in first-half stoppage time their best opportunity.
Gomez was rather more dangerous after the interval, his fierce left-footed drive from the edge of the box drawing a brilliant early save from Lukas Hradecky. That set the tone for a frenetic second half in which the action ebbed and flowed as both teams pushed to break the deadlock. Leverkusen looked more likely to get it and should have scored when Karim Bellarabi's teasing cross from the left found Volland, who blazed over from 10 yards out. The striker made amends in the closing stages, however, first heading in at the back post from Havertz's floated cross before lashing in a half-volley from the edge of the area to finish a lightning-fast counter-attack.
- Volland's opener was his first goal on home turf in 2018/19. The 26-year-old has now scored two of his five Bundesliga goals this term with his head. For the first time this season, six yellow cards were awarded in the first 45 minutes of a game. Stuttgart have the Bundesliga's tamest attack this season, scoring just eight goals. The Swabians also have one of the leakiest backlines, having shipped 26 goals in 12 outings.Santiago Ascacibar covered more ground than any other player on the pitch (7.3 miles).
Leverkusen: Hradecky – L. Bender (c) (Wendell 78'), Tah, S. Bender, Jedvaj (Weiser 66') – Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz (Alario 66') - Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt - Volland
Unused subs: Özcan, Dragovic, Bailey, Kohr
Absentees: Pohjanpalo (ankle)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Stuttgart: Zieler – Beck, Kempf, Pavard, Insua – Maffeo (Thommy 46'), Gentner (c) (Castro 81'), Ascacibar, Aogo (Akolo 81') – Gonzalez, Gomez
Unused subs: Grahl, Aidonis, Dajaku, Sarpei
Absentees: Badstuber (calf), Donis (thigh), Meyer (knee), Sosa (pelvis), Özcan (ankle), Baumgartl (stomach bug)
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
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