Saturday, April 21, 2018

BATE v Bayer Leverkusen: Hernandez out to continue hot streak

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 22 Nov 2015


In-form striker Javier Hernandez wants Bayer Leverkusen to build on a morale-boosting weekend victory when they travel to BATE for a pivotal Champions League Group E clash.

Leverkusen ended a run of three straight defeats in all competitions by seeing off Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 on Saturday.

A first-half brace from Hernandez set Roger Schmidt’s team on their way – the former Manchester United player scoring for the seventh consecutive club match, during which time he has amassed 10 goals.

Mexico international Hernandez began this hot steak with another double in the 4-4 draw against Roma last month, while his first goal in Leverkusen’s colours came when BATE were dispatched 4-1 at the BayArena in September.

“We’re really pleased with the three points and we need to keep going in this flow,” Hernandez said after the victory in Frankfurt.

“On Tuesday we’re going to try to do the same against BATE in the Champions League.”

Leverkusen and BATE are third and fourth in the group respectively but victory for either will see them head into the final round of matches occupying the second qualifying spot, providing Roma are beaten on their trip to face holders Barcelona.

By contrast, if Roma spring a surprise at Camp Nou and the match in Belarus ends all square, BATE and Leverkusen will go out.

With the stakes high, Schmidt unsurprisingly views Hernandez as his trump card.

“It does the team a lot of good to have a striker like Chicharito who scores regularly,” he said.

“He’s integrated himself very well into our style of play. The fact he’s scoring so often is extraordinary.”

BATE have failed on their previous four attempts to reach the last 16 but they boast a formidable home record in the Champions League this season.

Dundalk, Videoton and Partizan were all seen off in the qualification rounds, while coach Aleksandr Yermakovich masterminded a stunning victory 3-2 victory over Roma that keeps their hopes of reaching the knockout stages flickering.

Leverkusen have not won on the road in the Champions League since a 2-1 triumph at Zenit last November and have lost all three away matches this time around, including a 1-0 reverse in their eventual qualifying success over Lazio.

Vitali Rodionov remains BATE’s only injury absentee with a knee problem, while Schmidt must reckon without suspended duo Omer Toprak and Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

Leverkusen’s Germany midfielder Lars Bender is battling to return from an ankle problem that has ruled him out for the past month.


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