Claudio Pizarro was the scourge of Bayer 04 Leverkusen as he hit a hat-trick to secure an emphatic 4-1 win for SV Werder Bremen at the BayArena on Wednesday evening.
With regular defenders Jonathan Tah and Ömer Toprak both injured, Leverkusen began the game with right-back Tin Jedvaj and utility man Andre Ramalho in central defence, and the visitors immediately exposed the inexperienced duo. Zlatko Junuzovic swung in a free-kick and after the hosts failed to clear, Fin Bartels crashed a shot through the crowd that was too hot for Bend Leno to handle.
The goal gave Bremen a platform on which to build and they bossed the rest of the half to hosts growing frustration, with Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez receiving a booking that rules him out of Matchday 25’s trip to Augsburg. Things then went from bad to worse for the home side when the evergreen Claudio Pizarro – who also netted when Bremen knocked Leverkusen out of the DFB Cup last month – dispossessed Christoph Kramer and ran clear to dink a beautiful chip into the corner shortly after the break.
Ten minutes later, the result was effectively sewn up as Wendell’s rash challenge on Junuzovic resulted in a penalty, which Pizarro again dispatched with consummate coolness. Bayer pulled one back when Papy Djilobodji headed into his own net, but they mustered little thereafter, and indeed suffered another blow when Hilbert had to be withdrawn with a serious-looking injury. Pizarro added a final flourish with a headed goal from a corner, before being substituted to a standing ovation from the delirious away fans.
Man of the match
Despite being 37 years of age, Pizarro has rarely been in better form in his long and prolific career. Once again he put Bayer’s admittedly makeshift defence to the sword with three classy goals, and has now scored ten times in his last nine appearances in league and cup.
While Bremen will celebrate long into the night, Leverkusen appear to have hit a wall having now lost their last three in the league. And while Chicharito’s suspension for the weekend is a concern, the bigger worry may be his fitness after he spent much of the second half moving gingerly before being substituted late on.
- Bartels also scored in this fixture last season, with the game ending in a 3-3 draw.
- Pizarro has now scored 185 Bundesliga goals in his career, and ten times in the league this season.
- Bremen have scored a Bundesliga record 55 own goals.
Leverkusen: Leno – Hilbert (Heinrichs 75’), Jedvaj, Ramalho, Wendell – Kramer, Calhanoglu – Bellarabi, Brandt (Kruse 46’), Mehmedi – Hernandez (Frey 86’)
Bremen: Wiedwald – Gebre Selassie, Vestergaard, Djilobodji, S. Garcia – Grillitsch – Öztunali, Junuzovic, Fritz (Kleinheisler 87’), Bartels (Veljkovic 61’) – Pizarro (Ujah 84’)