Head coach Xabi Alonso named an unchanged side from the one that started the 3-0 win away at Borussia Mönchengladbach. His team were dominant from the off against Darmstadt, who opted to focus on defending and trying to counter. Leverkusen’s initial attempts to find gaps in the visitors’ defence came to nothing at first, with the Lilies able to deny Alejandro Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong in quick succession.
Not long after, a Darmstadt corner allowed Bayer 04 to break, with Frimpong sending Boniface away from inside his own half. The Nigerian striker drove into the box up the inside right before clipping the ball over the goalkeeper to open the scoring. However, the visitors hit back almost immediately through Oscar Vilhelmsson. The Lilies started to come out of their shell, but the Werkself pushed hard again to retake the lead as they dictated the play. Frimpong and the midfield duo of Granit Xhaka and Palacios both had efforts from range with around half an hour gone, but it remained 1-1 going into the break.
It took only four minutes after the restart to find that next goal, though. Frimpong drove into the box down his right flank and squared for Palacios, whose deflected effort beat goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen. The BayArena erupted again just after the hour mark when Florian Wirtz slipped in Boniface to bag his brace and fourth goal of the campaign in only three games. With the pressure now off, Hofmann added a fourth with a finish into the far corner from Boniface’s provision.
With the score now 4-1, Alonso made some changes and handed Nathan Tella his Bayer 04 debut – and he immediately for a first assist as he ran into the area from the right and teed up Hlozek, who simply had to stick out a foot to get the fifth. Hofmann came close to making it a half dozen in added time but only found the side netting. It didn’t matter in any case as the Werkself made it three wins from three in the league and go into the international break still perfect this season.
Leverkusen return to action after the break with a trip to defending champions Bayern Munich on Friday, 15 September (20:30 CEST).
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Kossounou, Tah (Stanisic 72'), Tapsoba – Frimpong (Tella 72'), Xhaka (Hlozek 80'), Palacios (Andrich 65'), Grimaldo – Hofmann, Wirtz (Mbamba 80'), Boniface
Darmstadt: Schuhen - Klarer, Zimmermann (Maglica 68'), Isherwood (Stojilkovic 58') - Bader, Franjic, Holland, Nürnberger (Karic 26') - Mehlem, Vilhelmsson (Skarke 58'), Pfeiffer
Goals: 1-0 Boniface (21'), 1-1 Vilhelmsson (25'), 2-1 Palacios (49'), 3-1 Boniface (61'), 4-1 Hofmann (68'), 5-1 Hlozek (83')
Yellow cards: Tah, Palacios, Xhaka - Vilhelmsson, Lieberknecht (head coach), Klarer
Referee: Sven Jablonski (Bremen)
Attendance: 29,653 at the BayArena
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