When a Ja-Cheol Koo-inspired FC Augsburg raced into a 3-0 lead against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Matchday 25, UEFA Champions League football must have seemed like a very distant dream to Die Werkself and their supporters. However, an astonishing second-half fightback at the WWK ARENA proved to be the turning point in Bayer’s campaign…
Season in a nutshell
Led by the goals of the prolific Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, Schmidt’s charges were on the cusp of the top four for the majority of the Hinrunde. A haul of 11 points from five matches at the beginning of the Rückrunde lifted them into third, before a succession of injuries to key players threatened to derail their top-four ambitions.
MD26: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-0 Hamburger SV
Die Werkself’s narrow victory was not one for the purists, but it arrested a run of four league matches without a win. Albin Ekdal’s unfortunate own goal after 18 minutes proved the difference between the two sides, while Calhanoglu and goalkeeper Bernd Leno were both in impressive form for the hosts.
MD31: FC Schalke 04 2-3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Another miraculous fightback earned Leverkusen a vital three points in Gelsenkirchen. The Royal Blues led 2-0 at the interval, but three goals in six second-half minutes from Julian Brandt, Bellarabi and Chicharito lifted Leverkusen back into third for the first time since Matchday 21.
With 17 goals in 28 appearances in his first season in Germany, Chicharito has taken to the Bundesliga like a duck to water. Only FC Bayern München pair Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, as well as Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have netted more league goals than the Mexican in 2015/16, while his energy and agility made him the perfect foil for Kießling in Leverkusen’s attack.