MOSCOW (AP)Bayer Leverkusen kept alive its slim hopes of Champions League progress with a 2-0 win at Lokomotiv Moscow in its 100th game in the competition on Tuesday.
An own-goal from Rifat Zhemaletdinov in the first half and a perfectly struck volley from Sven Bender in the second gave Leverkusen its second consecutive win after losing its first three games in Group D.
”The win does us good, and it was important,” said Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes, whose team is assured of at least third place and a Europa League spot.
But it could be even more.
Leverkusen has six points, one less than second-place Atletico Madrid, which lost 1-0 at already qualified Juventus later Tuesday.
Leverkusen and Atletico will duel indirectly for second place in the group in the final round of games on Dec. 11, when Leverkusen hosts Juventus and Atletico welcomes Lokomotiv.
Leverkusen was gifted an 11th-minute lead in Moscow after Portuguese forward Eder tried to clear the ball after a corner only to hit teammate Zhemaletdinov, who had no time to react to stop the ball rebounding into his own net.
It meant three of Leverkusen’s four goals scored so far in the competition were own-goals.
Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky made a reflex save to deny Anton Miranchuk an equalizer in the 26th after a mistake from Wendell presented the home side with its biggest chance.
Kevin Volland missed another good opportunity for Leverkusen before the break, but Bender grabbed the visitors’ second goal 10 minutes into the second half when he scored with a volley inside the far corner after Charles Aranguiz lifted the ball over the defense.
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