Kai Havertz set another milestone for the Bundesliga when he found the net in Leverkusen’s 3-1 Rhine derby win over Cologne on Wednesday to ease his club back into the UEFA Champions League qualification positions.
Clearly, it wasn’t for Leverkusen’s liking to be knocked out of the top four as a result of Borussia Mönchengladbach ‘s win over Wolfsburg 24 hours earlier, and when Sven Bender deftly turned into a Leon Bailey corner — Leverkusen ‘s fifth opening stage — it brought a richly deserved lead. Timo Horn has denied Moussa Diaby after wriggling through a porous visiting backline with Cologne, in danger of taking on more water than the rain-drenched BayArena.
Diaby ‘s speed and inventiveness down the left have been a constant source of concern for Cologne, whose worries would have had even stronger foundations when the ex-Paris Saint-Germain youth selected Havertz at the edge of the box. An ugly shot wide was skewed by Germany international, but soon after it was sure-footed to direct a Bailey cutback home and the Leverkusen double advantage.
Toothless in the 45-minute opener the Billy Goats found some bite to get back into the game after the break. An unmarked Jhon Cordoba had gone wide just before Sebastiaan Bornauw got up to nod in a corner to give Cologne hope.
It has been in vain, however, as Leverkusen saw the game out in relative comfort. Havertz may have made Peter Bosz’s men’s closing stages even more comfortable but he sent a close-range overhead kick over the bar when Wendell produced the same misleading outcome with a well-placed free-kick.
Havertz then exchanged smart passes with Diaby, who charged forward and shot under Horn from a close angle to put Leverkusen ‘s European fate in their own hands.