At the start of the new Europa League season, Bayer Leverkusen offered at least some magical football and impressively underlined their claim as one of the title contenders.
The Bundesliga table leaders defeated the Swedish champions and cup winners BK Häcken 4-0 (2-0). Coach Xabi Alonso rotated heavily and replaced almost half of the starting eleven.
Florian Wirtz (10th), Amine Adli (16th), Victor Boniface (66th), last year's top scorer in the competition wearing the Saint-Gilles jersey, and Jonas Hofmann (70th) scored the goals for Bayer, which came after six competitive games is still undefeated and scored 25:5 goals. Häcken also lost his third European Cup game in a main phase.
Alonso had made five changes to his team compared to the 2-2 draw at FC Bayern on Friday. Goalkeeper Matej Kovar, who was brought in from Manchester United for 3.5 million euros, made his debut, and the new signings Josip Stanisic and Nathan Tella made their first starting eleven appearances. In addition to captain and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, Hofmann and Jeremie Frimpong were initially given a break. Former Bielefeld player Jacob Laursen was supposed to start at Häcken, but he apparently injured himself while warming up.
Bavarians with a show of force
From the first second, Leverkusen left little doubt about who would win this game. After Adriano Grimaldo narrowly missed (6th), Wirtz was successful after a remarkable pass from Boniface. Wirtz has already set up two goals for the Nigerian in the league. However, Bayer were also lucky when Kovar showed nerves and played the ball into Mikkel Rygaard's feet, but he didn't capitalize on it (8th). Adli, who missed the first three games of the season due to a suspension from the previous season, followed up with an impressive direct pass after a cross from Granit Xhaka. And it could have been much clearer earlier.
After half an hour, the guests also showed that they are actually an offensive-oriented team and Kovar was able to prove himself three times. After taking a short break before half-time, the Leverkusen team became more active again after the change and increased accordingly.