Berlin, Jan 25 (Calcutta Tube) Bayer Leverkusen has regained a two-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a comfortable 3-0 win at Hoffenheim.
Defender Sami Hyypia scored his first Bundesliga goal Sunday since joining pre-season from Liverpool and midfielders Toni Kroos and Tranquillo Barnetta added two more in the second half to take unbeaten Leverkusen to 41 points.
Bayern Munich, who earned a 3-2 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday for their sixth straight league victory, have 39, one ahead of Schalke 04 who were held 2-2 at Bochum.
In Sunday’s earlier game, visiting Cologne piled on the misery for Wolfsburg with a 3-2 victory over the Bundesliga champions who have now gone seven games without a win.
Leverkusen had little trouble dismissing Hoffenheim who have faded to ninth after a promising start to the season.
Finland defender Hyypia slid in at the far post to put a free-kick from Kroos over the line in the 11th minute, and the German midfielder put the visitors well in charge when he had time in front of goal to pick his spot six minutes after the break.
Kroos, who looks close to to winning a first cap for Germany, was also involved in the third goal in the 72nd minute when he squared the ball back to Barnetta who found himself with only keeper Timo Hildebrand to beat as Hoffenheim’s resistance crumbled.
Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes said he was not happy with the first-half performance and had some clear words for the players at half-time.
‘We were careless at times and lost concentration after taking the lead. I said at half time we needed to take more initiative, and that we did,’ he said.
‘Hoffenheim were very aggressive and full of running in the first half, and we made mistakes which gave them two big chances. The second half was different and I think it was a top-class performance from my team.
‘I think you could see in the second half that the team deserves to be at the top.’
At Wolfsburg, goals from Kevin Pezzoni, Sebastian Freis and Adil Chihi downed coach Armin Veh’s side who stay stuck in midtable, a place behind Hoffenheim.
Wolfsburg came back to equalize twice but Moroccan midfielder Chihi earned Cologne the points with a 74th-minute winner to take the promoted side four points clear of the relegation zone.
It was a fifth home defeat this season for Wolfsburg, who last season were unbeaten at home on the way to the title, winning 16 and drawing one of their 17 games.
Cologne were without first-choice strikers Lukas Podolski (back injury) and Milivoje Novakovic (flu) but were helped by some poor defending from the home side.
Pezzoni was clear at the near post to head in from a corner in the 7th minute. Although Christian Gentner levelled in the 21st minute after Cologne failed to clear a corner, the visitors got back in front in the 57th when Freis evaded two challenges in a run through the middle and rounded keeper Andre Lenz.
Ricardo Costa levelled two minutes later from close range, but Cologne bagged the points when Freis had room on the right to square the ball to Chihi with Wolfsburg defenders vainly protesting for offside.
Wolfsburg have now conceded 38 goals – two per game – and only bottom side Hertha Berlin have let in more.
Veh, who succeeded Felix Magath as coach and manager, looked a demoralised figure on the bench, but newly-appointed general manager Dieter Hoeness refused to speculate on the coach’s position.
‘Everybody is stunned. After a game like that you cannot expect that you know the solution. We have to digest it first,’ he said.
‘We have to sit down together. After seven games without a win it’s clear you have to think about things.’
Hoeness, who had been brought in to relieve Veh of his management duties, said it was difficult for him to assess the situation after just nine days at the club.
‘There’s good work being done but I can also see the reality, that we are conceding an incredible amount of goals,’ he added.