Alario shines as Leverkusen win seven-goal thriller

·3-min read
Wolfsburg's Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels pulled off a dramatic late penalty save to seal Sunday's 2-1 win over Hoffenheim

Alario shines as Leverkusen win seven-goal thriller

Wolfsburg's Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels pulled off a dramatic late penalty save to seal Sunday's 2-1 win over Hoffenheim

Lucas Alario struck twice as Bayer Leverkusen climbed to fourth in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 4-3 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, who suffered their first defeat since the opening day of the season.

Alario now has seven goals in six league games after twice equalising before Jamaica winger Leon Bailey and midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger netted second-half goals for Leverkusen.

"It was a very intense game," said Baumgartlinger.

"We put in a really good performance and can go into the international break with a lot of self-confidence."

The 28-year-old Alario, who has scored two goals in each of his last three league games, is the Bundesliga's second highest scorer behind Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who has 11.

Gladbach captain Lars Stindl converted a penalty after only 18 minutes when Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky upended striker Breel Embolo in the area.

Alario levelled by curling in a superb shot into the top far corner on 27 minutes.

Stindl grabbed his second when he snapped up a stray Leverkusen pass in the area and fired home with a half an hour gone.

Gladbach had clear first-half chances as defender Ramy Bensebaini clattered the post and forward Marcus Thuram had a shot saved.

Alario equalised for the second time when he outleapt his marker and his header flew past Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who mistimed his clearance, to make it 2-2 at the break.

Leverkusen sealed the win when Bailey fired home from a tight angle, then Baumgartlinger finished off a flowing move eight minutes from time.

Arguably the best goal of the game came in the 90th minute when Gladbach replacement forward Valentino Lazaro used the back of his heel to volley a spectacular shot.

"There were too many mistakes against a very good team, that's not good enough," admitted Gladbach keeper Sommer.

- Casteels saves Wolfsburg -

Earlier, Wolfsburg climbed to sixth after goalkeeper Koen Casteels pulled off a late stunning penalty save to help seal a 2-1 home over Hoffenheim, who have struggled since their shock win over Bayern Munich.

Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time, but their Israeli striker Munas Dabbur watched helplessly as Casteels pushed away his spot kick attempt.

It was the second late penalty which went begging after Wolfsburg's Dutch striker Wout Weghorst fired his spot-kick attempt wide on 84 minutes.

Wolfsburg raced into the lead when Swiss winger Renato Steffen scored after just six minutes, although the VAR needed to check whether there was an offside in the build-up.

A superb pass by Wolfsburg midfielder Xaver Schlager then split the defence and put Steffen away with the towering Weghorst scoring on 26 minutes.

However, the 1.97m-tall Dutchman squandered the chance to put the result beyond doubt when he fired his late penalty attempt wide.

Hoffenheim finished the stronger.

When Wolfsburg's US defender John Anthony Brooks failed to connect with a clearance header, Hoffenheim's replacement forward Sargis Adamyan smashed his shot into the net three minutes from time.

However, Casteels' goalmouth heroics made sure Wolfsburg took the three points.

Since shocking Bayern Munich 4-1 in late September left them briefly top of the table, Hoffenheim have claimed just one point in their last five league games to drop to 13th.

Bayern opened a two-point gap over second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday with a 3-2 win at rivals Borussia Dortmund, who move down to third.

ryj/dj