A pair of teenagers, Tin Jedvaj and Julian Brandt, stole the show as Bayer Leverkusen continued its fine early-season run, coming from behind twice to defeat Hertha Berlin 4-2 Saturday afternoon in their Bundesliga home debut.
Leverkusen, which qualified for the Champions League group stage in midweek, had opened the year with an impressive win at Borussia Dortmund. This wasn’t as commanding a performance from a team playing its fourth match in less than two weeks, but a four-goal second half got the job done impressively.
Crotian youngster Jedvaj inadvertently put Hertha on top in the 24th minute when his sliding clearance attempt to a Julien Schieber cross sped straight past his goalkeeper Bernd Leno for an own goal, but he then brought his team level with a fine, 50th minute goal. The defender who won’t turn 19 until November perfectly timed his run across the back of the defense to receive a Gonzalo Castro pass, and had the poise to turn and fire under keeper Rune Jarstein.
Brandt, who came on as a halftime substitute for Son Heung-Min, snatched the winner in the 75th minute when he was on the spot in the center of the box to smash home a rebound after a fine Karim Bellarabi run produced a drive that hit the far post and came back to the 18-year old.
In between there was a second go-ahead goal for Hertha from Schieber, his third in a pair of games since being signed away from Borussia Dortmund, and a second Leverkusen equalizer from defender Emir Spahic, who met a fine cross from Hakan Cahanoglu off a quickly-taken Bayer free.
Leverkusen’s fourth was probably the goal of the match, a terrific Bellarabi first-time volley to an arcing Cahangolu cross from the left in the 86th minute that ensured Bayer will head into the international break in an excellent frame of mind.
In the other afternoon matches, SC Paderborn and 1. FC Koln, both newly-promoted sides won on the road, while two matches were drawn. Koln won 2-0 at VfB Stuttgart while Paderborn handed Hamburger SV a 3-0 pasting. Werder Bremen shared the spoils with Hoffenheim, 1-1; Wolfsburg twice lost leads and had to settle for a 2-2 home result with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Yuya Osaka, at full stretch at the far post to turn in a flashing cross through the box, and Anthony Ujah, left alone to score after a long ball was not handled at the back by the Stuttgart defense, had the newly-promoted Cologne side two goals clear at the interval. Osaka’s goal came in the 23rd minute, Ujah finishing his chance 10 minutes later. That proved to be quite enough to hand VfB the defeat.
At Hamburg, Elias Kachunga put the visitors in front in the 28th minute when Rene Adler could only parry a shot into the scorer’s path at the far post. Kachunga thought he had doubled the account six minutes later, but the flag was up for offside when he drifted to the far post for a header. Paderborn did get a second in the 68th minute thanks to an awful, crossfield giveaway pass from Artoms Rudnovs that allowed Mario Vranic to stride in alone to beat Adler. Moritz Stoppelkamp added a third in the 88th minute to complete HSV’s misery.
Sebastian Rudy’s precise cross to the far post was controlled perfectly by Roberto Firmino as Hoffenheim took a 20th minute lead at Werder Bremen, but Bremen got level through Alejandro Galvez in the 61st; Wolfsburg’s Naldo had his team on top in the 15th minute, but Takashi Inui’s free kick answered nine minutes later, when it took a deflection off Sebastian Jung for an own goal. Maxmilian Arnold put Wolfsburg back ahead, before Vaclev Kadlec’s 86th minute goal gave Eintracht a share of the points.
The night kickoff featured Schalke vs. Bayern Munich.