Leverkusen - Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez and Hakan Calhanoglu starred as Bayer 04 Leverkusen ran out 4-1 winners over FC BATE Borisov on Matchday 1 of UEFA Champions League Group E.
BAYER 04 LEVERKUSEN 4-1 FC BATE BORISOV
1-0 Mehmedi (4’), 1-1 Milunovic (13’), 2-1 Calhanoglu (47’), 3-1 Hernandez (58’), 4-1 Calhanoglu (pen. 75’)
With all the pre-match build-up focussing on Hernandez, it was almost inevitable that the diminutive Mexican superstar would be involved from the off. It took all of four minutes for the summer signing to tee up Admir Mehmedi, who curled a wonderful finish past Sergei Chernik for the opener. Leverkusen, however, were architects of their own downfall nine minutes later when Roberto Hilbert deflected Nemanja Milunovic’s powerful header past Bernd Leno.
While the goal shook Bayer’s confidence for ten minutes, Roger Schmidt's men beginning to get back into their stride before the break, passing the ball with renewed vigour and coming close through Mehmedi, before Kevin Kampl and Hernandez both tested Chernik. Within two minutes of the restart, Leverkusen had deservedly retaken the lead, with Calhanoglu’s shot deflecting over Chernik in the BATE goal.
Leverkusen’s relentless pressing was preventing the Belarussian champions leaving their own half, resulting in chances falling thick and fast. Chernik produced a brilliant save from Hernandez in the 51st minute, but the striker was not to be denied soon afterwards, applying a cool finish to Kampl’s superb through-ball for the home side’s third. With BATE down and out, it was left to Calhanoglu to hammer home hammer home from the spot with 15 minutes remaining and conclude an impressive Bayer display.
MAN OF THE MATCH
While Hernandez’s debut will steal the headlines, it was Calhanoglu who again caught the eye for Leverkusen. The young Turkish international produced a svelte display in attacking midfield, knitting his side’s attacks together and twice showcasing his calm finishing ability.
After back-to-back Bundesliga defeats, it was hoped that the Belarusian champions would provide welcome relief for Bayer Leverkusen. While Schmidt’s side laboured for most of the first half after the visitors’ 13th-minute equaliser, the second-half performance showcased die Werkself at their high-pressing, suffocating best.
- Javier Hernandez netted his first Leverkusen goal on his full debut.
- Hakan Calhanoglu has been involved in seven of Leverkusen’s last ten Champions League goals.
- BATE’s opening goal came with their first shot of the game.
- Leverkusen have won six of their last seven fixtures at home in this competition.
Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Tah, Papadopoulos, Wendell – Bender (Kramer, 44’) – Calhanoglu (Brandt, 77’), Bellarabi, Kampl, Mehmedi – Hernandez (Kießling, 72’)
BATE: Chernik - Dubra, Milunovic, Mladenovic, Polyakov - Aleksievich, Stasevich – Baga (Karnitski, 60’), Hleb (Volodko, 30’), Signevich – Gordeichuk (Volodko, 78’)