Peter Bosz's Leverkusen turned in another convincing performance to win their fifth match on the trot and edge closer to the Europa League K.O. Phase.
|Lucas Alario.||Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag|
Injuries and the ordinary rotative needs associated with a packed schedule compelled trainer Peter Bosz employed six changes to his lineup. Tin Jedvaj and Jonathan worked as center-halves behind anchoring midfielder Kerem Demirbay.
Alexander Dragovic and Nascimento "Wendell" Borges served as fullbacks buttressing wingers Leon Bailey and Karim Bellarabi. Florian Wirtz and Nadiem Amiri worked as close knit eights behind the returning Patrik Shick.
The 4-1-4-1 set the tone early, pining their visiting Israeli opponents behind their own halfway line with consistent distribution-heavy attacks. A spot of luck finally allowed Schick to direct a flicked on corner in off his stomach in the 29th. The Czech striker nearly built upon the well deserved lead before the half was out. Leverkusen outshot their opponents 13-0 and lorded over 84 percent possession.
Bailey would double the advantage three minutes after the restart after being unlocked by Wendell. A Jedvaj defensive error allowed Hapoel back into the match. The veteran defender crossed directly to Beer Sheva striker Itamar Shviro right in front of goal. The attacker only had to slide the ball into the empty net to make it 2-1 in the 58th.
Somewhat rattled by the prospective comeback, it took Bayer some time to get themselves organized again. Demirbay would once again give them some breathing room with a wonderful tally off a direct free kick from outside the 18 in the 76th. Lucas Alario, on for Schick, would add a fourth goal four minutes later.
Die Werkself still top their Europa League group after four rounds of play. A victory for Slavia Prague, however, means they have some company in first place. The Czechs also have nine points through four rounds. Hapoel and OGC Nice remain within arithmetical striking distance on three points.