Stefan Kießling and Julian Brandt’s goals marked a positive start for Roger Schmidt’s men, as Bayer Leverkusen secured an opening day victory over Hoffenheim at the BayArena (First published on AllSportsNews)
Leverkusen came into today’s fixture with pressure mounting on their shoulders. Schmidt’s men have been touted, alongside Wolfsburg, Borussia Mochengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, to challenge Bayern Munich for the title this season.
Hoffenheim managed to give Leverkusen an early scare, as Steven Zubar latched onto Eugene Polanski’s pass to put the visitors ahead, five minutes into the first half.
Yet despite showing promising glimpses of counter-attacking football, Leverkusen soon took control of the match and managed to contain the opposition.
Hakan Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi helped the BayArena outfit respond to the deficit by applying constant pressure on the Hoffenheim defense, hoping to uncover a weakness that could be exploited by the creative duo.
However, the efforts of Oliver Baumann continued to thwart Leverkusen’s attack throughout the first half. The shot stopper proved to be the spine of Hoffenheim’s defence, saving a powerful Calhanoglu attempt that could have easily put the home side on level terms.
Yet it was Stefan Kießling who brought Leverkusen back into contention on the brink of half time. The 31-year old managed to apply a smooth finish, converting his shot into the top left corner of Baumann’s goal, much to the delight of the home fans.
The second half started in similar fashion, with Leverkusen immediately applying pressure to the Hoffenheim back four. Kevin Volland missed a chance to put the visitors back in front, firing Jonathan Schmid’s assist past the top right corner of the Leverkusen goal.
Leverkusen proved to be just as wasteful in converting attempts into goals, as Heung Min-Son and Kießling misfired efforts mid-way into the second period.
Despite the wasted efforts, Leverkusen’s persistence paid off. A carefully timed assist from Admir Mehemdi allowed substitute Julian Brandt to slot home a low shot into the opposition’s goal, nineteen minutes from time.
Mehmedi continued to show promise as he unleashed a further two attempts upon the opposition goal, only for Baumann to deny the former Freibrug player a goal on his debut.