Sunday July 14, 2024

Another Grimaldo special helps Leverkusen go top, Union bottom

Published : 12 Nov 2023, 23:02

  By Mark Meadows, dpa
Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah celebrates after scoring his side's third goal with team-mates Odilon Kossounou and Granit Xhaka during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Union Berlin at the BayArena on Sunday. Photo: David Inderlied/dpa.

Álex Grimaldo scored yet another cracker to help send Bayer Leverkusen back to the top of the Bundesliga with a 4-0 home win over bottom side Union Berlin on Sunday.

The Spaniard, operating as a left wingback, now has six goals in the league this term and has made a habit of scoring from outside the area. This time he curled a wonderful shot up and over into the far corner from just outside the box on 23 minutes.

Leverkusen centre backs Odilon Kossounou and Jonathan Tah then scored following corners in the second half amid poor Union defending while a quick late break brought a superb fourth and first of the season for Nathan Tella.

"We are obviously really happy with what we did today and going into the international break," coach Xabi Alonso told a news conference.

"Today wasn’t easy, Union defended well but our gegenpressing was great. We were rewarded from our set pieces, we are happy with that."

RB Leipzig beat Freiburg 3-1 in the late game. Netherlands midfielder Xavi, 20, continued his fine form with a 20-metre curler but Freiburg youngster Merlin Röhl conjured up his own special goal - his first in the league - to level.

The hosts beat Freiburg to a Champions League spot last term and did so on the pitch thanks to Loïs Openda and Christoph Baumgartner scoring in quick succession late in the second half.

Leipzig head into the international break in fourth after leapfrogging Borussia Dortmund, who lost 2-1 at third-placed VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

Seventh-placed Eintracht Frankfurt fought back to draw 2-2 at Werder Bremen in Sunday's other game.

Bremen forward Marvin Ducksch celebrated his first call-up to a Germany squad aged 29 by netting a penalty just before the break and Colombian Rafael Borré, on loan from Frankfurt to Bremen but allowed to play, scored the home side's second soon after the interval.

However, Ellyes Skhiri cut the deficit and Croatian defender Hrvoje Smolčić grabbed his first of the season as Frankfurt snatched a draw.

In Leverkusen, Union gave the ball away in the final third for the opener, underscoring their terrible run of form which is now 14 games without a win and nine straight Bundesliga defeats.

The 1-1 draw at Napoli in the Champions League in midweek had partially stopped the rot, but they have now dropped to the bottom of the Bundesliga on goal difference as the pressure on coach Urs Fischer grows after a fairytale few years in charge.

The award of the first corner which Kossounou headed in was controversial but otherwise Union, on six points, were well-beaten.

Fischer said: "I have the club's confidence, the club management has made that clear. But I have said that this is no guarantee of a job. The situation is always being assessed."

Alonso's Leverkusen in contrast are enjoying a dream season in the Basque's first full campaign in charge of a major club. They went two points above perennial champions Bayern Munich, who had taken over at the top on Saturday with a 4-2 home win over promoted Heidenheim.

Leverkusen remain unbeaten on 31 points from 11 games, the best ever start to a Bundesliga season for the side owned by pharmaceutical giant Bayer. They have a perfect record at home.

The club from near Cologne have never won the Bundesliga, finishing runners-up five times, prompting the nickname "Neverkusen."