Lucas Alario stars on Leverkusen debut in 3-0 win vs Hamburg
BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.
A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.
Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.
”The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.
Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.
The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of 23.8 million euros ($28.6 million) on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.
Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.
Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.
Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.
Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.
Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.
”The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. ”We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”
Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.
Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.
”We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.
Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.