No letup from title hopefuls Leverkusen in rout of Bundesliga newcomers
Victor Boniface’s fine start to life in the Bundesliga continued as Bayer Leverkusen kept the heat on leaders Bayern Munich with a resounding 4-1 win over Heidenheim on Sunday.
Boniface, who joined Leverkusen from Belgian side Union St Gilloise in July, has impressed in Germany, going into this game with six goals in as many outings in all competitions.
The 22-year-old from Nigeria is proving to be a shrewd acquisition at 20.5million euros, with his opening goal on Sunday a perfect example of his skill set, collecting a pass from Exequiel Palacios and using his power and neat control to pivot past Heidenheim defender Siersleben and drill a crisp low shot beyond Kevin Muller.
Newly-promoted Heidenheim, who picked up their first ever win in Germany’s top-flight last weekend against Werder Bremen, started to apply some pressure after the break and were rewarded when Eren Dinkci, the star of that win with two goals, collected Jan-Niklas Beste's pass and found the bottom corner to level.
But Leverkusen were back in front barely five minutes later. The influential Palacios was again the architect, splitting the Heidenheim defence with a sublime pass from his own centre circle, allowing another summer signing, Jonas Hofmann, to finish first-time for his second league goal of the season.
"We are satisfied and created chances but we should have made it 2-0 earlier," Hofmann told DAZN.
"But we continued to play our game and reacted very well to the equaliser."
When asked about his role in the side under coach Xabi Alonso, Hofmann spoke of the team's fluidity.
"We remain flexible. That's also the requirement, not to be too static. We have to solve problems intuitively and find the space. I think we're doing that very well at the moment."
Leverkusen were out of sight in the 74th minute, when VAR adjudged Heidenheim's Lennard Maloney to have fouled Alex Grimaldo in the box. Despite negligible contact, a penalty was given and Boniface sent it down the middle for his sixth league goal of the season, eight in all competitions.
Amine Adli put the gloss on the win eight minutes from time with the pick of the bunch, a deft lob over Heidenheim keeper Muller, making it 4-1 and completing another fine day's work for Xabi Alonso's team, who now have four wins from five in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen have flown out of the blocks this season, winning all but one of their first five league games and picking up a point at Bayern Munich last weekend. Five games in.
Alonso's team, who face bottom-of-the-table Mainz next weekend, are emerging as the main early challengers to Bayern, who remain ahead of Leverkusen on goal difference.
In Sunday's late game, Eintracht Frankfurt and Freiburg contested a 0-0 draw.
Played in front of new Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann, Frankfurt couldn't convert their superiority into goals.
Freiburg thought they had snatched a winner deep into stoppage time, but substitute Chukwubuike Adamu's header was chalked off for offside.
Despite being unbeaten this season and possessing the Bundesliga's best defence, Frankfurt have drawn their last four games and remain without a win since the opening day, having scored the joint lowest number of goals in Germany’s top flight.