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12.11.2023Bundesliga

Werkself equal best start in Bundesliga history with 4-0 win over Union Berlin

Bayer 04 beat Union Berlin 4-0 on Sunday to claim their 16th win out of 17 competitive fixtures in 2023/24 and defend top spot in the Bundesliga by equalling Bayern Munich’s record start after 11 games of 31 from a possible 33 points. Alejandro Grimaldo, Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah and Nathan Tella were on the scoresheet for the Werkself at the BayArena.
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Head coach Xabi Alonso made five changes to his team from Thursday’s UEFA Europa League victory away at Qarabag. Lukas Hradecky, Kossounou, Jeremie Frimpong, Exequiel Palacios and Jonas Hofmann came back in, with Matej Kovar, Josip Stanisic, Tella, Robert Andrich and Amine Adli dropping to the bench. On a run of 11 straight wins in all competitions, Leverkusen started with confidence and their usual dominant possession play. Union sat back in their own half to form a defensive wall. The first chances came after around 10 minutes when Victor Boniface missed the target from a Florian Wirtz delivery. Moments later, a poor Frederik Ronnow clearance went straight to Boniface, who tried to slip in Wirtz, but he had his path to goal blocked. Tah then met a corner unmarked at the far post but saw his header cleared by Paul Jaeckel.

Grimaldo’s sublime finish

A moment of magic from Grimaldo gave the Werkself a deserved lead, with Wirtz pressing to win back the ball before the Spaniard, who has just been called up for the national team for the first time, fired into the far top corner on his left foot for his sixth goal of the season. Ronnow later denied Frimpong with his feet. Boniface could’ve made it 2-0 but his header from close range was too close to Ronnow. Union’s goalkeeper was called into action again to turn a Wirtz effort around the post with his fingertips on the verge of half-time.

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Kossounou gets first goal

The Berliners appeared livelier after the break and Hradecky had to react to a long-range Aissa Laidouni effort. Bayer 04 then provided a telling response as Kossounou headed in a Hofmann corner on 57 minutes for his first-ever Bundesliga goal. Moments later, Jerome Roussillon prevented a Leverkusen third with a goal-line clearance from Frimpong. A deflected Hofmann shot also flew just wide.

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Like the second goal, the third also came from a corner. This time it was Grimaldo’s delivery, which Tah acrobatically finished with just over a quarter of an hour to go. Leverkusen weren’t done there, though, as substitutes Tella and Adli finished off a counter moments after coming on thanks to a thumping effort under the crossbar from the summer signing, who marked his maiden senior Nigeria call-up with his first Bundesliga goal. It rounded off the Werkself’s 10th win in 11 Bundesliga outings this season as they equalled the best start in history, set by a Bayern team featuring Alonso under Pep Guardiola in 2015/16.

Bremen after the break

Club action takes a backseat for a week now as players go off to join their national teams for the international break. Leverkusen return to action on Saturday, 25 November with a Bundesliga trip to Werder Bremen (kick-off: 15:30 CET).

Match stats:

Bayer 04: Hradecky – Kossounou, Tah, Hincapie – Frimpong (Tella 80'), Palacios (Andrich 87'), Xhaka, Grimaldo – Hofmann (Adli 80'), Wirtz (Mbamba 87') – Boniface (Hlozek 87')

Union Berlin: Rönnow – Jaeckel, Bonucci (Knoche 24'), Leite – Juranovic (Trimmel 46'), Laidouni, Kral, Haberer, Roussillon (Gosens 78') – Becker (Aaronson 64'), Fofana (Behrens 78')

Goals: 1-0 Grimaldo (23'), 2-0 Kossounou (57'), 3-0 Tah (73'), 4-0 Tella (83')

Referee: Timo Gerach (Landau)

Yellow cards: Rönnow

Attendance: 29,387 at the BayArena (home contingent sold out)

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