Jens Hegeler gave the hosts the lead in the fourth minute, but Rapid put up a brave fight before further goals from Andre Schürrle and Manuel Friedrich made it almost as comfortable for the hosts as it had been in Austria two weeks ago, when they came away with a 4-0 win. The margin of victory did not matter, though, as Leverkusen sealed their passage with two games to spare.
After winning 4-0 in the Austrian capital a fortnight ago, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Rapid as early as the fourth minute when Hegeler headed Leverkusen in front on their first attack. Sidney Sam sent in a cross from the left which was headed onto the crossbar by Junior Fernandes, bouncing back to Hegeler, who beat Lukas Königshofer with the second attempt.
However, it was not to be the predictable monologue after that goal, as Rapid responded, and Christopher Trimmel almost brought them level within an instant. Bayer still carved out some good openings, with Carvajal’s cross hitting the crossbar and Sam seeing a penalty appeal turned down before Rapid missed a perfect chance to level in the 35th minute when Stefan Kulovits guided his shot just wide of the far post with only Michael Rensing to beat.
All wrapped up
Leverkusen were just getting warmed up, though, and came out for the second half keen to wrap up victory and their place in the knockout stage. Schürrle doubled their lead in the 53rd minute, meeting Terrence Boyd’s headed clearance with a fine volley into the bottom left-hand corner of Königshofer’s goal. Just over ten minutes later, Friedrich made it three with a header from close range as the Rapid defence seemed to evaporate into the Leverkusen night sky.
Fernandes wasted a chance to make it four moments later, but the outcome of the game was already beyond any doubt. Bayer were happy enough, but Fernandes apparently wasn’t. The Chilean seemed desperate to get his own name on the scoresheet, but he found the wrong side of the net in the 72nd minute.
Leverkusen: Rensing - Carvajal (74' Carlinhos), Friedrich, Toprak, Hosogai - Hegeler, Reinartz - Rolfes - Schürrle (62' Renato Augusto), Sam (46' Castro) - Junior Fernandes
Rapid: Königshofer - Schimpelsberger, Sonnleitner, Gerson, Schrammel - Kulovits, Pichler - Trimmel, Wydra, Grozurek - Boyd (86' Prokopic)
Goals: 1-0 (Hegeler 4'), 2-0 (Schürrle 53'), 3-0 (Friedrich 66')