Julian Brandt scored for the third game in a row for Leverkusen. - © © imago
Julian Brandt scored for the third game in a row for Leverkusen. - © © imago

Leverkusen's Julian Brandt: 'A big step towards Champions League'

Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Julian Brandt delighted in Sunday's derby win over 1. FC Köln that took Die Werkself back up to fourth in the table and strengthened their bid for UEFA Champions League qualification.

1. FC Köln 0-2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Goals: 1-0 Brandt (39'), 0-2 Chicharito (44')

Julian Brandt (Leverkusen forward): "It feels great to be derby winners and the celebrations at the end were fantastic. But we were also relieved to make sure we got the win after a lot of our rivals dropped points this week. It's a big step towards the Champions League."

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez (Leverkusen forward): "It was a derby game today but in the last four matches we've tried to play with that intensity. Thankfully we didn't concede a goal – [Bernd] Leno put in a perfect performance and he saved us. The whole team played really well, we didn't concede a goal, we scored twice and could've had even more. Thankfully we got the three points against a very good rival. I'm very happy [to have scored 25 goals for Leverkusen]. I always say I'm not obsessed about goals; my obsession is to get points for my team. That's the most important thing."

Bernd Leno (Leverkusen goalkeeper): "It's a great feeling. We're all relieved to have taken three big points here. The important thing was that we were clinical in front of goal. We made a lot of the chances we had and we didn't give them that many opportunities. Our top-four chances are good. We still have to play Hertha and Gladbach and it's in our hands. We'll try to stay on Hertha's coat-tails as long as we can. If we hadn't won the game today we'd have heard it all next week from the Köln fans, so winning means every Leverkusen supporter can go to work tomorrow feeling proud.

Roger Schmidt (Leverkusen coach): "All in all it was a fair derby, although the red cards at the end were a bit unnecessary. Both of our goals were really well worked and I think we deserved the 2-0 win."

- © gettyimages / Sascha Steinbach