Bundesliga: Kai Havertz makes the difference again for Bayer Leverkusen | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 23.05.2020
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Bundesliga: Kai Havertz makes the difference again for Bayer Leverkusen

In Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, two very similar sides met on Saturday in the race for the Champions League. But despite the similarities on paper, Kai Havertz again made the difference on the pitch.

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
(Thuram 52' – Havertz 7', 58' pen, Bender 81') 
Borussia Park

Marco Rose was well aware of Bayer Leverkusen’s strengths. After all, they’re not too dissimilar to those of his own team.

"Leverkusen are a very complete side; they work intensively against the ball and press well," said the Borussia Mönchengladbach coach ahead of the game. "Both teams want to control the play, we’re very similar."

But Rose will also have been aware of one key difference between his Gladbach and Peter Bosz’s Leverkusen: Leverkusen have Kai Havertz.

The 20-year-old scored twice in his team’s 4-1 hammering of Werder Bremen on Monday and took only seven minutes to put his side ahead here, a neat finish under the goalkeeper setting the Werkself on course for a third consecutive Bundesliga win. The victory sees them leapfrog their opponents and move to third, but RB Leipzig can overtake them if they beat Mainz on Sunday.

If Havertz' opener demonstrated finesse, his second, a penalty to restore Leverkusen’s lead after the break, was pure power. Yann Sommer got a good hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

A step ahead: Elvedi can't stop Diaby from getting a shot away (AFP/I. Fassbender)

A step ahead: Elvedi can't stop Diaby from getting a shot away

Stinging shots, delicate finishes, headers and positional flexibility – just some of the qualities which have propelled Havertz’ name to the top of the shopping lists of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

But the young German international has exhibited another characteristic in recent months: leadership. Despite his age, Havertz has pulled on the armband and is leading maturely from the front.

"We intended to win here today and we did so deservedly," said the captain confidently post-match. "We had the game under control from the very first minute."

Gladbach's day to forget 

An accurate analysis, although Gladbach were also architects of their own downfall.

With the influential Denis Zakaria out injured, the Foals struggled to control midfield and Leverkusen came forward time and again, Karim Bellarabi, Kerem Demirbay and Moussa Diaby linking up well with Havertz – who also hit the bar just before half-time.

Ramy Bensebaini, one of the Gladbach’s most impressive performers this season with five goals and two assists from left back, had an afternoon to forget with some disastrously wayward passing. After he gave the ball away in the build-up to Havertz’ opener, make that three assists.

A short spell just after half time showed what Gladbach are capable of, with Marcus Thuram firing home an equalizer after a perfectly weighted through-ball from Alassane Plea, but Havertz’ penalty soon put Leverkusen back in front, before Sven Bender secured all three points late on.

For all the similarities on paper, Bayer Leverkusen and Kai Havertz were in a different class. And they're well and truly back in the race for the Champions League.