Copenhagen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen have taken a huge step towards the UEFA Champions League group stages thanks to a 3-2 win in the first leg of their play-off tie at FC Kobenhavn.

After striking five in the first DFB Cup first round on Friday, Stefan Kießling continued his outstanding form by breaking the deadlock, before further first-half strikes from Karim Bellarabi and Heung-Min Son paved the way to victory for the Bundesliga side in the Danish capital.

Kießling showing the way

Leverkusen settled into their rhythm quickly against former 1. FC Köln coach Stale Solbakken's side, carving out numerous chances in the opening stages, and they duly took the lead only five minutes into the game as Kießling did well to convert from close range following a neat interplay between Giulio Donati and Hakan Calhanoglu. Kobenhavn didn't need long to respond though, as headers from Mathias Jörgensen and Daniel Amartey helped the hosts to a 2-1 lead after 13 minutes.

Bayer kept up the pressure, however, dominating possession and looking sharper throughout. Sebastian Boenisch missed two promising opportunities for new coach Roger Schmidt's charges, but returnee Bellarabi did better just after the half-hour mark the game, benefiting from a defensive blunder to slot in from 11 yards, before Son left Stephan Andersen in the Kobenhavn goal no chance from the edge of the box in the 42nd minute.

Leverkusen dominant

One-way traffic continued after the break, with Leverkusen dictating the exchanges and continuously passing their way towards their hosts' goal. Kießling could have added to his tally but sent a close-range effort just wide, while Son and Calhanoglu also wasted further good chances.

Andreas Cornelius missed one of Kobenhavn's few opportunities after a rare foray forward, but it was Bellarabi at the other end of the pitch who should have potentially decided the tie then and there, his effort failing to beat the keeper. Nevertheless, Leverkusen ran out deserved winners to keep qualification in their own hands ahead of next week's return leg at the BayArena.


Kobenhavn: Andersen - Högli, Nilsson, Jörgensen, Bengtsson - Claudemir (53' de Ridder) Amartey, Amankwaa, Delaney - Cornelius, Kadrii

Leverkusen: Leno - Donati (46' Donati), Spahic, Toprak, Boenisch - Castro, Rolfes - Bellarabi (83' Brandt), Calhanoglu (88' Drmic), Son - Kießling

Goals: 0-1 Kießling (5'), 1-1 Jörgensen (9'), 2-1 Amertey (13'), 2-2 Bellarabi (31'), 2-3 Son (42')