Bayer 04 Leverkusen's impressive recent form continued on Saturday as a Julian Brandt-inspired side defeated SV Darmstadt 98 3-2 at the BayArena.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-2 SV Darmstadt 98
The hosts went into this match riding a wave of confidence following their come-from-behind victory over VfL Wolfsburg last week and an impressive showing to defeat Tottenham Hotspur FC in the UEFA Champions League. Leverkusen controlled proceedings from the off and after probing for the first half hour, deservedly broke the deadlock when the outstanding Julian Brandt set up Hakan Calhanoglu to drill a wonderful shot into the net from the edge of the box.
Darmstadt came out fighting in the second half, however, and equalised almost immediately through substitute Antonio Colak. Yet Leverkusen responded well and restored their lead shortly afterwards when Brandt headed in Julian Baumgartlinger's superb diagonal ball. Chile international Charles Aranguiz added a third with a drive into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area, and it would prove crucial as Mario Vrancic netted a late goal for Darmstadt, but it was ultimately not enough for the visitors to take a point.
Man of the Match
Brandt was sensational here. Darmstadt could not get near him, with the 20-year-old's close control and eye-catching skill constantly opening up space and creating chances for the hosts. His goal was the deserved reward for a superb display.
Leverkusen have won three consecutive matches in all competitions and are now playing with the confidence and composure that helped them finish third last season. They will be hoping the international break does not disrupt their rhythm.
- Kai Havertz made his first competitive start for Leverkusen, with the 17-year-old becoming the club's youngest-ever debutant.Calhanoglu has scored 17 of his 24 Bundesliga goals with efforts from long range.Aranguiz scored his third Bundesliga goal in his 16th league outing.
Leverkusen: Leno – Henrichs, Tah, Toprak (c) (Dragovic 84'), Wendell – Brandt (Kießling 90'), Baumgartlinger, Calhanoglu, Havertz – Mehmedi (Aranguiz 60'), Chicharito
Coach: Roger Schmidt
Darmstadt: Esser – Höhn, Milosevic, Sulu (c), Guwara – Gondorf, Jungwirth – Ben-Hatira (Sirigu 46'), Kleinheisler (Vrancic 75'), Heller – Schipplock (Colak 46')
Coach: Norbert Meier