Leverkusen seal Champions League berth with Hertha win

Bayer 04 Leverkusen booked their place in next season's UEFA Champions League group stage thanks to a 2-1 victory at home to fellow European rivals Hertha Berlin on Saturday evening.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-1 Hertha Berlin

Goals: 1-0 Brandt (2'), 2-0 Bender (16'), 1-2 Ibisevic (21')

Aware of the stakes going into this match, Leverkusen began with the confidence gleaned from winning their previous six league outings. Coach Roger Schmidt could not have hoped for a better start, with Julian Brandt drilling in after just two minutes. The hosts doubled their advantage shortly afterwards when Hertha failed to clear a free-kick, allowing captain Lars Bender to pounce from close range. The visitors gave themselves a foothold in the game, however, when Vedad Ibisevic headed in superbly from Peter Pekarik's cross.

Hertha pushed forward after the break in search of an equaliser and they might have found one with more accurate finishing. Leverkusen were not content just to protect their lead, though, and twice went close to adding a third goal through Karim Bellarabi, only for Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein to deny him each time. In the end, neither side could find the target again, allowing Die Werkself to record another victory and seal third place.

- © gettyimages / Christof Koepsel/Bongarts
- © gettyimages / Christof Koepsel/Bongarts