Julian Brandt on fire as Bayer Leverkusen come back to down stunned RB Leipzig
Goals from Kai Havertz, man-of-the-match Julian Brandt, Panagiotis Retsos and Kevin Volland helped Bayer Leverkusen end a two game scoreless run in spectacular fashion to leapfrog rivals RB Leipzig in what has become a thrilling race for a top-four Bundesliga finish.
Goals: 1-0 (Sabitzer 16′), 1-1 Havertz (45′), 1-2 (Brandt 51′), 1-3 (Retsos 56′), 1-4 (Volland 69′)
Going into the game boasting a seven-game unbeaten run, the hosts hit the front with their first effort on target shortly after the quarter hour. The ball working its way toward Yussuf Poulsen, the Dane’s header found a path to Sabitzer who applied a neat, first-time finish. The visitors were subsequently stung by the loss of Sven Bender to an injury but kept their composure to find parity shortly before half time. Bursting clear in typical fashion following a Leipzig corner, Leon Bailey sent a cross to the far post where Havertz was on hand to volley in his third goal of the campaign for 1-1.
Without a win or a goal in their previous two Bundesliga outings, Die Werkself were stung by coach Heiko Herrlich’s half-time words to emerge in determined mood. They forged ahead when Volland supplied Brandt to fire past goalkeeper Peter Gulasci while a mere five minutes later the men in black increased their lead. Again involved, Brandt – who recently agreed extended terms with Leverkusen – looked on in delight as his free-kick into the area eventually landed at the feet of Retsos with the 19-year-old Greece international firing low and true for his first Bundesliga goal. Incredibly there was more to come, a defensive lapse from Dayot Upamecano allowing the phenomenal Brandt to tee-up Volland for his first goal since January and lift Leverkusen up to fourth place, while sending Leipzig to sixth.
- This was Leipzig’s first Bundesliga loss against Leverkusen in what was the fourth meeting between the teams.
- Brandt was directly involved in seven of B04’s 13 shots. He scored for 2-1, had a hand in his team making it 3-1 and also assisted for Volland’s goal.
- Volland brought up his Bundesliga goals tally to 50 after ending his longest drought since joining Die Werkself.
- Poulsen registered his very first headed assist in the Bundesliga in setting up Sabitzer.
- Leverkusen’s equaliser was their ninth counter attacking goal this term.
- No team have scored more times  via midfielders than Leverkusen in 2017/18.
- Sabitzer’s opener was the Austrian’s first goal following a barren run of 1,066 minutes.
- Bailey is Leverkusen’s most potent attacking threat with a combined 14 goals and assists (9 scored, 6 provided).
Leipzig: Gulacsi – Klostermann, Orban (c), Upamecano, Bernardo – Sabitzer, Kampl, Keita (Ilsanker 76′), Forsberg – Werner (Lookman, 69′), Poulsen (Bruma 56′)
Unused substitutes: Mvogo, Konate, Demme, Augustin
Absentees: Halstenberg (knee), Laimer (thigh)
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Leverkusen: Leno – L. Bender (c) (Jedvaj 68′), Tah, S. Bender (Retsos 19′), Wendell (Henrichs 63′) – Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz – Brandt, Havertz, Bailey – Volland
Unused substitutes: Ozacan, Kießling, Kohr, Bellarabi
Absentees: Alario (suspended), Pohjanpalo (fitness)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
As it happened …